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What's so good about making lists?

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Americans live in a culture of lists. There are grocery lists, to-do lists, honey-do lists, lists of New Year's resolutions, calendar of dates, events and reminders. Why aps and accessories to support list-making has created an entire industry. The lexicon of a laundry list evokes the idea of the listing of numerous and sundry things.

Some experts, say making lists has health benefits. Rather than simply supporting the remembrance of items to shop for or tasks to complete, listing actually de-clutters your brain and improves focus, increases self-esteem and makes room for new information. Making lists boosts your brain power and reduces anxiety. It organizes your thoughts and frees-up time and mental energy. The habit of list-making creates a personal accountability for completing the things you've set-out to achieve.

You may think making a list is a no-brainer; what is there to it? Put down a few items and that's it. However, let's take a moment to review a few pertinent tips that may have been overlooked.

1. Keep your tasks bite-sized: Be thoughtful about your goals and the steps necessary to complete each part of the larger task. Instead of putting-down elephant-sized items, such as, "finish my book", list achievable goals. You might list: write for 15 minutes every day or even twice per week rather than carrying the burden of guilt for not saving $1000, put on your to-do list to save all the $5.00 bills left in your wallet/pocket at night/to put aside $50.00 by the end of the month which can be accomplished by abstaining from expensive lattes for one week, which has the added bonus of allowing you to shed a few pounds this month.

2. Complete lists in categories: Some may find it more helpful to use categories or themes for your lists, such as, personal tasks, work assignments or household chores.

3. Write-out your list on paper: With all the electronic gadgets and apps for list-keeping, the best way is still by using good ole pen and paper. The mere act of writing it down will help to remind you of what was on the list long after you've stopped thinking about it. Just by writing your goals on paper will help you unconsciously refer to it continually. If you write out 10 things you want to accomplish in the next year, put it away and don't even look at it, when you return to the list 365 days later, you will find that 80% of the goals listed have been accomplished. You sub-conscious wants you to be successful and will unwittingly to you, continue to work toward those goals.

It is just as important, if not more important, to know how to use the list. How many times have you written your shopping list only to leave it at home? While the act of writing down items you want to remember has some intrinsic value, in that it helps remind you of the items on the list, the list is most helpful when you keep track of it and work your way through it, chipping away at the contents one at a time. Once you've crossed-off an item on your list, you gain a sense of satisfaction, completion. Sometimes, it is difficult to acquire closure in many areas of life.

Simply by integrating the simple act of making lists, you can transform your to-do list into a "ta-da" list. Then you can transition from a constant nagging feeling of your have-tos and spiraling productivity to the denouement that comes when you're able to check-off things. This will yield such a much needed sense of accomplishment that can be very satisfying. What a small amount of effort which leads to a sense of accomplishment and greater level of self esteem.

Write Examiner.com article .... ta-da!

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