7 Reasons Why I Love my Lists


Where did it all begin? The need for me to have a piece of paper, card, old receipt or even the back of a cut up cereal packet to write some reminders on. Lists are a part of my daily life and when I say list, it has to be a physical one – technology is great for creating a “to do” or “checklist” when there is nothing to hand but it is just not the same for me as using pencil on paper or card. Of course the preference is pencil, only an amateur Lister would use pen surely!!

Breakfast Cereal

Early List Role Models

The cereal packet idea I seem to remember came from my Grandma Ann. In the days when you shopped every day, she would have little rectangles cut up ready to make her list of reminders of what she needed. My parents adopted the same strategy but I think they moved it up a gear by adding a bulldog clip to the list-ready paper and card. Radical!

With hindsight, this is recycling at it’s best. Many a time I would endure the taunts of colleagues when I too guillotined the never ending supply of photocopying paper that was discarded because the wrong thing had been printed, the printer jammed or too many copies had been produced. Naturally I would add a bulldog clip and keep it by the phone for the endless phone messages that arrived, to just to doodle on in meetings and as an emergency coaster. Whats not to like?

To Do List

Why Do I Need a List?

I can’t use the excuse that I love stationery because I can’t carry this with me and some of the lists aren’t in the least neat or pretty. Or maybe I have a poor memory and limited attention span? Having given it some thought, I made a list and these are the best reasons to justify my weakness:

  1. Planning my time and gives me structure. As I write them I think about the day/week ahead and that gives me pleasure.
  2. Writing items down frees up the need to remember them and somehow makes me think that I am part way to achieving whatever it is (because it is on the list – what would an analyst make of this?)
  3. Keeps me focused. I do have a tendency to go off on a tangent…….what was that ball of wool I had in a draw somewhere? See what I mean?
  4. I am more likely to stick to it if it is on my list.
  5. If I am mildly concerned about something the process of writing something down lessens the concern (offloading I suppose)
  6. I feel decidedly smug if I can erase/cross something off a list.
  7. Give me a highlighter (or two) and the list takes on a whole new life form.


Today’s List

For us, in these strange times of not being able to plan at all, you may wonder why I would need a list but I still seem able to churn them out. Examples of this are:

  • the weekly food shopping list
  • the weekly menu list (this one falls into list hoarding so I can check back on what we haven’t had for a while)
  • the “What I need to research” list (such as gifts, travel locations)
  • the “Refunds Outstanding” list (long)
  • my daily “To do” list
  • my “Who to is due a letter/phone call reminder” list
  • my “Programmes I have missed on the radio or TV and want to catch up on” list (big title but small list)
  • my “Things to buy” list (not desperate enough to order on line but what I need when we do decide to venture to those now open shops)
  • my “In and Out of Storage Cupboard” list

Jonno is totally the opposite. He is adamant he doesn’t need a list to remind him of anything – although I have been know to list by proxy for him (sad but true). He falls into the category of hating seeing what he has/wants to do as it changes it into a chore. I am not sure if it counts but I do remember him having about 6 sheets of flipchart paper stuck on the wall with bullet pointed items of our plans. If asked he would deny it being a list I’m sure. Brainstorming? Large planning? Anything by admitting to being a list.

Flip Chart

True enough, some of my lists in my working life and whilst we were preparing to travel were so long it could look totally overwhelming so once I was given a very good piece of advice, I just wish I could remember who said it. The advice was not to have a “to do” list but have a “today” list. Wise words indeed.

Future Lists

Finally, no matter how retro they feel, this style of writing is still responsible for driving huge amounts of traffic to websites so it must suit the fast pace of information hungry readers and followers. Unfortunately I don’t think my family tradition will span another generation, the closest I have got is giving the gift of a board game called Listography which involves making matching or non matching lists with other players on various topics. Everyone loved it.

However, I am not going to give up without a fight over the hereditary use of a paper based list so blank lists is on the list of home made gifts, on the family sub-section list of the Christmas presents list for 2020. (Note to family and friends: Don’t panic that was a joke).

To Do List


  1. Another lover of the lists here. Even if I don’t get every item ticked off, the fact I listed it shows I had the best intentions. Funny though because my husband and I also use the phrase ‘stick it on the list’ to refer to something we’d like to do but know we aren’t getting to any time soon. So we list what we will do and what we won’t and somehow it works out ( more or less!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love lists! Having everything laid out clearly makes it all so much easier.
    I use the website Goodreads to keep track of the books I’ve read and want to read. It’s nice having everything laid out in a list.
    Tea in the Tub

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is great and made me smile as I read because I am the same – I love lists! I also prefer a hand written list rather than using technology. It feels more satisfying ticking off something on your list than just deleting it from a your phone. And oh, pass me the highlighter! The way you can use a highlighter to mean different things in a list is just perfect 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have paper lists and online lists – you’ve made me think out my policy! I think the paper ones are more immediate and the online ones longer term, so if an item becomes urgent it might move onto the paper to-do list. One advantage of online, though, is you can set a reminder – haven’t managed to get paper to do that yet. As for what I write them on, I’m with you on not wanting to waste scrap paper. Also, I find those bits of cardboard you tear out of tissue boxes handy for shopping lists. Nice and stiff so you can cross things off easily as you buy them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like your list strategy. Like you I do have some online ones but much prefer my paper or card ones. It would be interesting to know when and why I wrote my first one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love a list Jo!! I know that if I’ve written a shopping list but left it at home (happens quite often) I can remember what to get simply because I had written things down on my list!! I always have notebooks too with notes/lists keeping blog posts ideas, present ideas and random ideas that pop into my head. I was also responsible at work for making ‘list pads’ from recycled paper, so no, you’re not the only one :). I once wrote a post about lists, now that I come to think about it – something like ..I may be many things but at least I’m not listless!’ Great to read your thoughts on lists Jo and I nodded and smiled along as I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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