5 list keeping guidelines to reduce stress

Do you love keeping lists? Perhaps you need to cut back...

Are you a list kind of person? Business to do, people to follow up with, project and writing ideas, books to read, movies to watch, shopping lists, packing lists, the list goes on and on…

And I’m sure you love your lists, as do I! They are great for keeping focused and organized and you never have to worry about forgetting anything. However, they are also excellent at keeping us stressed, rushed and pre-occupied. If you’re anything like me, and have list-keeping OCD, you put everything on a list. ‘Call the hair salon’, ‘Message Hannah’, ‘Read that article’, ‘take the chicken out of the fridge’, and on and on it goes.

Come on, surely we can have more confidence in our memory than this! And as the lists start piling up, so does the stress of everything that needs to be done.

So I set about to change my list keeping habits to see what impact this would have. And guess what, I haven’t become more forgetful but quite the opposite. I also feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Instead of powering through each task so that I can cross it off my never-ending list, I’m now able to focus on the task at hand and actually enjoy the process. I feel lighter, less stressed and excited to wake up and get to work each morning.

So here are my 5 list keeping guidelines to reduce stress:

1)   Only put urgent things on your list.

For me, this is the hardest guideline to follow but the most effective in reducing stress. Don’t bog yourself down with the little things. Have faith that they will get done and put a little trust in your memory.

2)   Don’t keep lists for ideas.

If it’s truly a good idea you will continue to think about it again and again. If not, then it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

3)   Highlight the 3 most important tasks.

Every evening review your ‘to do’ list for the following day and highlight the 3 most important things. Focus only on doing these things. If you get through them all, then great, move on to some less important tasks.

4)   Monitor your list.

Are there items on your list that never get crossed off? Instead of feeling stressed about them, take time to stop and think about why they aren’t getting done. Are they not that important anyway? Could you have someone else do them? Or is there something else holding you back? Is it something you hate doing or something new and scary? If that’s the case, try and put together a plan to help you through or even reward yourself once they are done.

5)   Be flexible.

Always allow spare time in your day in case something pops up. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities because you are too busy or feel extremely stressed when something unplanned comes your way. By allowing some extra cushion time, you can handle these situations without stressing. And if nothing comes up, then awesome! You can move on to smaller tasks or have a little time for yourself.

Do you have any other list keeping guidelines you follow to help reduce stress? Share them below. I’d love to hear them!