You Need to Start Organizing Your Lists
Yes, you read that right. Organizing your lists.
Funny idea, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not as though you have a pile of lists somewhere that need organizing. You don’t see professional organizers talking about the best way to sort and store your lists.
You write it, you use it, you throw it away. That’s what you do with a list.
Except I disagree. There are some lists – quite a few, actually – that ought to be kept and used over and over again. What’s the point in throwing away a perfectly good list?
How “the List” Got Started
Last year our family went camping – my husband and me, our daughter, her husband, and their almost six-year-old son.
We went to a campground that we used to camp at as a family when the children were young. Our daughter wanted to share those kinds of memories with her son.
We had a wonderful time, but we were completely unprepared as far as camping went. It had been so long since we had done anything like that, and I think we forgot more than we remembered. Lucky we had family (and a couple of debit cards) to help out.
While we were there and it was fresh in our minds, my daughter and I made “the list”. We already knew this was a new family tradition and we were determined to be better prepared in the years to come. We listed everything we could think of: things we had used a lot and things we had left at home.
The Safe Place
Have you ever put something in a “safe place” so you won’t lose it, only to forget where that safe place is? I have. Lots of times.
But I’ve gotten better over the years.
You may know by now that I am addicted to things like planners, pretty paper, notebooks, colored pens, and markers; I could go on and on. Lucky my husband thinks it’s funny and not an expensive habit. (I do try and use my discounts and coupons.)
Anyway, I had a planner with me and we used a sheet from that to write “the list” and then I just tucked it into the back of the planner, after December. I do that with anything that I want to save (or remember) from one year to the next. That way, when I am switching planners for the new year, I can pull those out and put them where they belong. That’s my safe place.
Next Years Lists
So my camping list from last year went into this year’s planner at the end of June. We always camp the last weekend of July (Halloween weekend at the campground) so putting it in June gave me time to get ready.
Oh, and pulling that list out at the end of December and getting the new year’s planner ready did another thing: it reminded me to make reservations for the RV and the campsite. You have to do that early in the year to get what you want.
Are you beginning to see how saving and organizing your lists can pay off? Not only that, but you’re not writing and re-writing the same thing over and over each year. You’re also not going to forget anything because you’re using the same list each time and refining it as you need to.
And this doesn’t just work for camping or vacation. It can work for almost anything you make a list for: groceries, holidays, special occasions, even things you might do seasonally. Literally, if you make a list, you can use this.
So Let’s Talk About Organizing
Organizing lists. Still sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But aren’t you the least little bit convinced?
Now if you’re a die-hard planner girl (I’m going to have to start using that term), you can keep all of your lists in your planner. I use a Happy Planner, which allows you to add and remove pages easily. If you use a different kind of planner without that capability, you will need another system.
Alternatively, you can make a book (or buy a notebook) that just holds your lists and then keep it “somewhere safe”. I would suggest maybe near the computer or wherever you keep your planner. Or make a note in your planner telling you where it is.
Consider a notebook or binder that lets you switch out pages. They have a lot at Target in smaller sizes, if you’d prefer not to use a full-sized one. A spiral or other type of bound notebook is not as flexible in terms of where it is placed or when you need to make revisions or additions.
If you are truly a die-hard planner girl, you can make a planner just for your lists and decorate it too. I can’t make fun. You should see the cute little book I made for our camping list. I’ll post a picture. It is fun to do.
Doing that helps prevent the possibility of losing the list, but doesn’t trigger the reminder that we do have a list already made if we just go get it. Again, a simple note placed at the back of your current planner can do the trick here. Just remind yourself at the end of December to get the book and transfer the reminders to your current planner.
Is This Too Much Work?
Some of you might be thinking that this sounds like too much work for one simple list. And for some of you, it might be. That’s OK. Solutions like this aren’t one size fits all. I guess it depends on your personality and your lifestyle. And maybe your memory.
I’m lucky to have some pretty great neighbors. One of them has hosted the annual 4th of July party for as long as they have lived here – open to anyone who wants to come.
And along with another neighbor, they both indulge my love of Halloween.
Those are our two big social events of the year. We pretty much do the same thing year after year, but sometimes we try new things, and sometimes we just want our bases covered.
My friend Wendy started a scrapbook of our Halloween adventures not long after we started it. We all dress up as witches and try and give the kids some fun along with their candy. Wendy’s scrapbook helps us remember what we’ve done, what worked, and what didn’t. We have lists in there too.
JayDee is the Queen of the 4th of July, and we write down and keep lists so, as she puts it, “we don’t remember”.
The point here is – just like my camping book – these can be fun things to put together and they can keep memories as well as lists.
The Time Saving Aspect
Imagine a master grocery list – you print one off each week and highlight what you need. Print it early and you can highlight things you run out of mid-week. I mean, really, don’t you feel like you write the same list over and over every week anyway?
What about Thanksgiving? If you’re the one hosting it, you’re making a list – no, you’re making tons of lists – every year, even though you probably cook the same thing each time.
And Christmas? Oh my goodness! Santa only makes one list and checks it twice, but how many are you making? And you make the same ones every year. Granted, the gifts change, the sizes change, but last year’s list can still be helpful. In fact, a few of them can, especially any to do with cooking or grocery shopping or decorating.
And even with an old list, maybe you won’t end up doing what I’ve done more than once and bought the same gift for the same person two years in a row! (Oh, and if anybody needs cloves or allspice, I have about 4 containers of each.)
And what about seasonal things?
If we owned that RV we’ll be camping in, we’d have to know how to put it up and take it down (or whatever you call it). Stuff has to be hooked up and leveled and plugged in. A list would make that easier.
When we had a pool, it had to be opened and closed at the beginning and end of the season. Might have been handy to have a list then.
When you have a list, you just follow along and check things off one by one. It saves you time and aggravation.
Make Some Lists, Then Organize Them
I’m telling you – organizing your lists is the way to go.
If you go on Pinterest, first come see me and follow me. 🙂 Then search for household notebooks or binders. Those ladies have got their lists made, laminated, and organized!
You can also search for any kind of list to get you started on the right track in making your own. And if you just need ALL the lists, go see Jen at List Planit. Her site has been around forever, and I guarantee you she has lists you haven’t even thought of! Bonus: a year’s membership means the lists are in a safe place and you can print a new one any time you want (and edit them too). I didn’t get paid to say this; I’ve used her service before and it’s amazing! And if you’re the digital type, she’s got you covered!
A Little (Free) Help
I’ve got a few free lists of my own, including grocery lists and a personal packing list. They’re available in the Library, all for the cost of your email address. Just fill out the form below and get a bonus 5 Day Mini-Course too!