To list or not to list?

There was a piece on BBC Breakfast today that really struck a chord with me.  They were talking about “to do lists” and if people that write them are more successful.

Well I am a prolific “To do list” writer, in fact it is the only way that I can cope with all I have to do.   People do say to me “I don’t know how you do it”.

Well I will tell you how I do it.  Dots.  It is all about the dots.   So much about the dots I have now launched it as Dotty Diary

This is one of my most treasured posessions:

It is the house bible.  Everything goes in here and if it isn’t here, well quite frankly, it isn’t happening.

The three Bs are each at a different school or college so all holidays, exeats and matches have to be put in.   Normal pick up is 4pm for E so when there is a match and it is 5.30pm I have to write it down so I know I can’t be 12 miles away collecting C from work before she calls me at 5.05 to ask “where are you”.

That Bulldog clip is used to hold dry cleaning or shoe repair receipts / tickets to events so I know exactly where they are.

To carry all of this around in my head would take up so much energy that I don’t think I would ever sleep.  Remembering when I have arranged to call one of my Victim Support Clients /send an email for Carnival / ensure paperwork is in place for a client.

Getting things out of my head is the only way I can cope with running this house and all five of us.

And this is a view backed up by Linda Papadopoulos, the pyschologist on the BBC’s sofa this morning.

She confirmed that pyschologically when we do something we do cross it off in our head.  And so when we don’t get something done it sits in our sub conscious still.   Almost nagging away at us.  Therefore putting it on paper “ticks it off in our minds”.     Exactly how I feel.

They did conclude that there IS  a direct link between writing lists and success.   People that write lists appear to be more goal and target driven and, therefore, more successful.

If that’s true David Cameron and Simon Cowell better look out.

What do you think?  To list or not to list?






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  • Yes I am definitely a list person, however I tend to highlight when I have finished (its adds to my stationary addiction and keeps me happy…so pretty!) and yes I would forget my own name if I didn’t write things down!

  • I too am a to-do-list a-holic! I would cease to function without them, despite much teasing from my hubby. I think I should take a leaf out of your 2012 diary and have one list though as with work lists in outlook, personal lists in my phone and carnival lists in a notebook, even with them I still get in a muddle.

    A personal favourite of mine is the Excel to-do list which I am sure that @sunshinewifey will second me on!

    I have heard that highlighting the things you’ve done rather than crossing them out is a good thing to do psychologically – making completing the task a positive, rather than a negative ‘crossing out’ – so perhaps not just to satisfy your stationary addiction MultipleMummy!

  • I’m definitely a list maker, and at busy times I have “lists of lists” too – a tip I once read was to start each day’s list with “make list” then oyu know you have already tackled one task on it and it doesn’t seem as daunting.

  • I love writing lists. If I don’t write a list, I forget things and they won’t get done. Mine are always on loose bits of paper though, meaning that I lose them afterwards. I’m going to buy a diary like you which should help.
    My partner writes lists as well. I think it really does help keep you focussed. Particularly with larger families, there’s so much going on to just keep it all in your head. Now that ours are in school/soon starting pre-school and we have a third, I really need to get more organised!

  • Oh yes, I write lists and I follow them. I always have, it comes from working on multiple projects when I was an engineer; then having lots of clients in my business and now running house, being there for R and all my voluntary work. I would be a mess without lists, they rock!

  • I love lists. Can’t do without, I have an ongoing pad for my shopping list, a pad near were I keep my bag to remind me if I need to take anything/do anything, I have a whiteboard in the kitchen to write appointments ect on- also reminders to get meat out freezer, a huge pin board, a ‘to-do’ list app on my phone, a diary in my bag with all dates and arrangements (can’t trust my phone with that job anymore after it let me down)……..however, I LOVE your bible. Now S is at school age and school keep sending letters, I totally love the simplicity of your bible!
    Now, can I order from paperchase online……

  • I have found after a lifetime of managing a ‘list’ that in retirement I need a reminder to look at my ‘To do’ list, otherwise I forget! You diligent listing brings to mind one of my favourite learnings; “If you want something done, ask a busy person”.