The joy of making lists

On your calendar or in a diary or on loose notes: making lists has many advantages. Here are just a few.

  • Peace of mind
    Suppose you have to write an important e-mail. Or you want to send a card to a friend. But right now you have no time for that. Even if you’re the forgetful type, chances are that this task will stay on your mind all day. “We often have many different projects on our plate,” says professional organizer Els Jacobs. “Work, family, home, social activities. A mix of big and small tasks that we mustn’t forget. Your mind gets overcrowded. With a to-do list, you avoid forgetting something. And what you write down, you can then let go. That’s why it’s the best way to create peace of mind.”

  • Your own time capsule
    Many people make to-do lists for their goals and dreams, but you can also use them for life in general. Author Lisa Nola has published several Listography journals: books full of lists to fill. The topics of her books range from music (e.g. “Concerts you wish you could time travel back to”) and travel (“Countries to visit; World cuisines to try”) to the future (“Habits to break; Good deeds to perform”). “I always make lists,” says Nola. “I can’t do without them; they enrich my life. Making lists calls up memories, sets your wishes in order and makes you aware of things – for example, how important music actually is to you. Listography is your autobiography in lists, your own time capsule.
  • Order, order, order
    Lists bring your life into order. They’re nice because our brains like to think in steps. “Out of necessity, because with our attention span, we can only do one thing at a time,” says science journalist Mark Mieras. According to Mieras, our memory is especially good at remembering natural experiences: the order in which you experience what you are going through or the things you do. For example: You’ve lost your keys. Where did you leave them? Often, in this case, you can easily trace back in your mind all the places you’ve been since you last had them. “Making lists is in our nature,” says Mieras. “They’re handy because you track back through them, and a list also helps get things into your memory better. Just the motion of writing alone helps you get a grip on information.

*These tips can be found in our Flow Journals.

Text Fleur Baxmeier Photography Shutterstock