5 Reasons to Love Lists
We are all different and we will all have a view about lists. Some people reading this will swear by them and create lists for almost everything whereas others will hate the sight of them and the very mention of a list will send them running from the room. Yet while they may not be a fan of producing their own lists, almost everyone finds information easier to digest or take in when it is in a list format. The brain is faced with a constant barrage of information and when we process information often we do it spatially, - so lists help to make information accessible. Imagine being faced with a long page of small, wordy text as opposed to a few key bullet points in a list - which would make it easier to absorb the information? Well for most people it would be the list format.
But apart from lists making information more accessible to us the process of creating lists has a number of other advantages - so keep reading!
1. Setting an Intention
Many people will tell me that once they have an idea or a plan of some sort - if they commit it to paper they know they are much more likely to actually make it happen.
Somehow the act of writing something down, and here it can be a written list or a note on your phone, tablet or computer, it might even be a serious of post it notes on a kitchen or study notice board or cupboard door, wherever and whatever the format a making a list means that we are much more likely to remember it AND make sure it happens. If an idea is just swimming in our brains it can feel very nebulous and vague whereas writing it down helps us to be specific and this in turn means we are more likely to commit to it and make sure it gets done.
In essence when we commit to a list we set an intention - its out there so we'd better get it done.
2 - It Can Reduce Stress
I know many people who keep a notebook by the bed and if they can't sleep because their brain is working over time they use it to make a note of what they have thought. Having done that you don't need to worry about remembering it because you have committed those thoughts and idea or things you know you need to do, to paper. So there is a record there for you and this can stop you constantly thinking of things you mustn't forget, or ideas you don't want to lose it might even mean you can out those thoughts out of your mind and get some sleep - or have more great ideas.
Others find if they are feeling overwhelmed then simply noting everything down can be a stress relief because even if the list is long it is finite, it will have an end and sometimes that makes things seem more manageable.
3. Encourages Organisations
When people write lists they don't usually just write things randomly, often there will be some organisation within the list. Things may be grouped together, perhaps with headings or time scales. Very often when people write a list they then prioritise within it by perhaps numbering or highlighting the most important items. In the same way that it's easier to absorb information in the form of a list so writing lists can make it easier to organise our thoughts. In fact making lists of key points, or dates or important facts can be a great aide memoir and revision tool.
So not only will the act of writing the list help you organise your thoughts but then having the list can be a further aid to organisation. as you are more likely to approach tasks in a sensible order not run around chasing your own tail.
There is something terribly satisfying about being able to cross something off a list or give it a tick because its been done. Its especially rewarding if the tasks them selves may be a bit mundane, perhaps things that you put off doing. We all like to have a sense of achievement and by having a list we can see that we are making progress and this in turn can be even more motivating.
Of course the opposite is also true so if you aren't ticking things off this could lead you to be frustrated but it could also lead you to making a extra push to get them done because somehow we all seem to enjoy ticking things off. Obviously it is important to make sure the list is NOT endless or we'd loose all motivation, but completing one list before starting to write the next can be strangely satisfying.
5. Sharing Information
But while the main purpose of a list may be for the writer there are also a lot of plus points about lists that impact on others. If you work collaboratively in any way at all it is very useful to have a list because it is very easy to share a list, or elements of it, with others. If there is a shared understanding of the big picture then having a list can save an awful lot of time in terms of explaining what you want to achieve, the steps in a process and getting others to help.
Lists can also be a great way of being transparent with others about what you are working on and how you are progressing with tasks which can save time and avoids putting anyone in a position where they fell they have to broadcast their achievements - a list can easily show what has been achieved.
Don't just think of lists as functional because they can be fun too. You can create a list about a anything - a party, a holiday, a project, something hobby related, almost anything. Remember too that actually writing the list will help you to organise your thoughts. So it can be a really good idea to make a list even if you haven't got all your ideas about a particular event or project worked out - it will be a great way to sort out your priorities.
It doesn't matter if you are a 'buy a new notebook' person or a 'any scrap of paper will do' or someone who likes a whiteboard, post it notes or an electronic device the fact is a list can be a really good plan.