Many of us struggle to tame one to-do list, so why would we want to have several? There are a couple of good reasons. By making several different lists in different areas, we divide (and hopefully conquer) our tasks. These lists allow you to chunk, organize and prioritize tasks, making life simpler overall.
I keep all my lists together, in one well-organized annual planner, so I always know exactly where to find them.
The to-do list
We all have a to-do list. The problem is, we throw absolutely everything on there, as it occurs to us, so we don't know how to prioritize it all or divide it into manageable chunks.
If you have a to-do list like that, it's OK. Keep it. Just start moving stuff off there and on to your other lists. Once it's on another list, cross it off your main one, just as if you'd actually done it. The world won't implode if you do this. You've filed this task on to another, more logical, list. It will still get done.
The daily action list
This is where you list the few things you need to get done today. Ideally it should be just three to five things. It can be more, of course, if they're all small, ten minute tasks. But always try to make this list short and focussed. We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in any one day.
The birthday list
Keep a list of everyone you need to buy birthday gifts and cards for. You can divide this by month, but keep the list for the whole year in one place. Leave a space to note each person's interests, hobbies or life plans. You can even note their favorite color, flower or animal here.
Pay attention to the real-life conversations you have with them and what they post on social media. Social media likes and comments can throw up some great ideas for potential gifts. This list can help you buy a thoughtful gift when you see it, even if the birthday is still a few months away. It can take the stress out of gift giving and make you look like the best gift giver ever.
This is where you put all the things you'd like to buy for yourself, your home, or your family members, including the things other people recommend that you'd like to research further. This can be a physical list or you can create a wish-list on Amazon. You can even make your wish-list public and maybe someone will buy you a gift you love.
The grocery list
Many of us aren't hugely adventurous with our food shopping, especially if we have young children. And that can be a good thing. A weekly grocery list can be printed off and reused every week. It's easy to add any extras by hand and much less time consuming than starting your list fresh every week. You can even download pre-formatted customizable grocery lists online.
I'm a huge fan of checklists, for every recurring task, whether that's an annual task like spring cleaning the house or cooking Thanksgiving dinner, or a daily task like packing your pre-schoolers backpack. Whenever you're doing a multi-step task that you know you're going to have to do over and over again, it's worth considering compiling a quick written checklist.
The to-read list
My reading list is long, and I add something new to it every week. For a long time, I noted down books I wanted to read on my general to-do list, and just skimmed past them every time I read it, because reading a new book isn't urgent.
Now I have a to-read list in my planner that I can get out whenever I'm in a book store or library or wondering what to download to my Kindle.
The to-watch list
Friends are always recommending films, documentaries and shows to watch, and maybe you make a note of some of them, but do you know where those notes are, when you're surfing through Netflix or deciding which DVD to rent or purchase?
The to-go list
I love to travel, so my to-go list has some exotic destinations on it. But it also has all the local attractions and outings others have suggested, many of which are little known, hidden gems that I would eventually forget about if I didn't write them down.
This list is useful when you have visitors from out of town and want to show them something unique in your area, or to alleviate summer boredom when the kids are off school and craving adventure.
The bucket list
Everyone should consider making a bucket list: a list of everything you want to do in this one precious lifetime. Nothing is too crazy for this list, and there is no theme. It can include travel, experiences, things to learn and people to meet. Your list, your ideas, your rules.
These lists will help you keep life simple and save you time, and can't we all use a little more time and simplicity?