7 Kinds of to-do List Makers: Which Kind Are You?

Do you know there are different kinds of to-do list makers? Making lists is a great way to be organized and keep track of everything from the groceries you need to shop for to your life goals. There is no science to this, but if you are a believer in to-do lists you do tend to swear by them and find them really useful. Are you interested in the kinds of to-do list makers there are? And would you also like to know if you are making the most of your way to make to-do lists? Let’s see what Liz Franklin, the author of ”How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson: A Step-By-Step Guide to Clearing Your Desk Without Panic or the Use of Open Flame” has to say, shall we?

1. Pen and Paper

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This is the oldest form of list making. The older you are, the more likely you are to be one of these kinds of to-do list makers. You grew up with writing your to-do list with pen on paper, and no matter what technology comes along, it is a method you are comfortable with and happy to stick to. Liz Franklin describes the pen and paper faithful list maker as tactile with a need to feel a list in their hands, and because they receive as much satisfaction from making the list as they do crossing items off, their to-do list tends to be long - very long. The downside of this is that a handwritten paper list can be disorganized and without priorities – merely a list. To make the most of this method of list making you need to break your list up into “chunks,” whether that be by time of day sections, or sections for work, home, car etc. Find a categorization method that works best for you and you’ll find you’re all the more organized for it.

2. Sticky Notes

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You might imagine at first that there’s no difference between the pen and paper list maker and the person who has sticky notes plastered everywhere. But, the big difference is that at least with a paper list, all your to-do items are in one place. Liz Franklin says the philosophy behind the sticky notes is that these kinds of to-do list makers prefer visual reminders, and colored stickies are more stimulating than a long list in one place. There are obvious downfalls to this method of list making. The sticky note doesn’t always stick and if they aren’t organized you can lose sight of your priorities. There is flexibility in using sticky notes to create an organized system though. You can use multiple colors for your lifestyle categories or employ a grid system on a flat surface or in a folder to organize into priorities, for example. And the beauty is, if your priorities change, you can just move the sticky notes around.

3. The Monica!

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If you are a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. you will know all about Monica and her, let’s be kind and say, passion for organization. If you are a Monica, you are an uber-organizer. Your life is a pile of brightly colored folders all neatly sectioned. Monica is a type A personality who, if let loose, would be ruled by her OCD. Everything has its place, and that place is neat, tabbed and color coded and woe betide anyone who moves anything out of its proper place. These kinds of to-do list makers have list making in their DNA. One of the problems for Monicas is that they love being so organized that their lists just grow longer and longer and things don’t get crossed off. You can avoid not achieving anything by pinning your tasks down and allocating them a specific date when they have to be complete by. It is, in reality, one step further in making your to-do list even more organized and more detailed, so if you’re a Monica you shouldn’t balk at this idea.

4. MS Office List Maker

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This is one of the types of to-do list makers that Liz Franklin doesn’t cover but I am including it because I know plenty of these. I’ve called them the MS Office list maker because generally they only use to-do lists at work. These are the people who probably are really not organized at all. They have a to-do list at work merely as an aide-memoire. I know that’s what a to-do list is in essence, but the fact is, this list maker only feels the need to be reminded of their work to-do items and excludes all non-work aspects. Does this mean that the work to-do list maker is solely focused on their career and everything else is incidental to their work goals? Personally, I think that the work list maker could do with extending their to-do lists beyond the workplace. One of my friends never misses a work deadline but can she be on time for any other appointment? No! As mother says, that girl will be late for her own funeral.

5. The Scribbler

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This list maker is a graffiti artist. They have no specific place to make their to-do notes and will scribble on anything to hand. The trouble with this method is that it is haphazard and disorganized. Those business cards, napkins, sticky notes, bill envelopes and corners of newspapers end up in office drawers, in the bottom of purses and coat pockets. What use are they when they are out of sight, out of mind? This impromptu style of list making is great for capturing that moment of inspiration but to be useful, the note maker needs to have some place to collect all those scraps so they don’t go to waste. Have a section in your purse maybe? Even better would be to become ritualistic about transferring everything from your scrappy scraps into a notebook.

6. Techno-tidies

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These are the types of to-do list makers who have moved with the times. They have a smart phone or a tablet and they use it. Some will merely plug their tasks into the notes section while others will download organizer apps. The thing to remember about this method of list making is that it is no better than any other, unless the effort is made to organize it and structure it. An unstructured to-do list on an electronic device can be just as long and unwieldy as a pen and paper list, or a pile of sticky notes. All apps that are designed to help organize your life claim they are the easiest to use and that your life will be 100% more organized when you use it. What they’re not so good at saying is that you need to invest some time and effort in setting them up and giving them structure to make them best work for you. So, if you are going to use an app, understand how it works, know what advantages you’ll get from using it and make it work the hardest it can to help you run your life.

7. The Non-list Maker

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Yes they do exist! I can say this with great confidence because I am one of them. I used to be the “work list maker” (as described in point 4) where, as a workaholic, my whole day was organized to the nth degree. I wasn’t however one of those who was always late for non-work appointments or missed friend’s birthdays or forgot to go to the dentist. These days I am a full time writer, work for myself and have no need of to-do lists. I might make the odd note on a Post-it or stick something in my outlook calendar to remind me, but I am lucky that my lifestyle allows me the freedom to live list-free. I will however concede the usefulness and effectiveness of lists and I think if I were to ever to go back to the corporate world (wild horses would have to drag me, kicking and screaming!), I would revert to list making and not just include work stuff. I think anyone who isn’t a list maker should consider if their life would be easier and better if they turned into one of the types of list makers I’ve shared with you.

I’d love to know what kinds of list makers you all are? Have I missed any out, do you think? And what about you confirmed non-list makers out there – do you think you will ever change and become a lister?

Sources: How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson: A Step-By-Step Guide to Clearing Your Desk Without Panic or the Use of Open Flame by Liz Franklin, clutterbugs.com

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