The 6 Lists You Need to Make Every Day Productive

Katie Sweeney

I’m a big list maker. In fact, looking around my desk right now, you might say that I’m obsessed with making lists. There are currently seven visible lists ranging, from my daily to-do list to things to buy at Target to MyDomaine story ideas. So it’s not a surprise that when I stumbled upon a Fast Company story that highlights the work of fellow list maker and Listful Thinking author Paula Rizzo, I was eager to learn more about this habit. According to Rizzo, “a lot of people want to be list makers, but they aren’t sure how to create lists that actually help. The key is making the right lists and being strategic in how they’re used.” She believes there are six crucial lists that will help us be more productive on an everyday basis. These are the most common lists that business leaders make but can be applied to everyone: college students, struggling artists, and working mothers. Here are Rizzo’s six lists:

  1. A specific and targeted daily to-do list. Rizzo recommends only putting on things that you have the time to achieve. Break things down to actionable tasks, and be specific. Instead of writing “answer emails,” write “email Morgan re: interview confirmation.” Write tomorrow’s to-do list at the end of your workday, before you leave the office. Put tasks that require the most energy and effort on it first, and leave tasks that don’t involve so much brain power for the end of the day. “When you come to work in the morning, you’ll have a road map and can hit the ground running.”
  2. An outsource list. “Look at everything on your to-do list and ask yourself, ‘Am I the only person who can do this?’” says Rizzo. “Anything that can be given to someone else should be put on an outsource list.”
  3. A long-term goals list. Create a list of dreams and long-term goals you would like to achieve. Nothing is too big; just write it all down. “When you write something down, studies say you’ll be 33% more likely to do it because it sets an intention and puts a goal into motion.” Refer back to your goals list regularly and update it accordingly. Get rid of things you no longer want to do and cross off the things you have already achieved.  
  4. A pros-and-cons list. Anytime you are making a significant decision, create a pros-and-cons list. “This list makes you dig down deep,” says Rizzo. “And just because there are more pros than cons, it doesn’t mean your decision should be a definite yes.” Write the list, then put it away. Come back a few days later and then try to make your decision.
  5. A project list. If working on group projects, create detailed task lists and assign responsibilities to every party involved.
  6. A talking-points list. When you have a meeting, call, or presentation, prepare a list of things you want to discuss—this ensures that you won’t forget mentioning something important.

Keep a pretty clipboard folder an arm’s reach away and you’ll always be ready to make a list.

Are you a list maker?

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