10 Lists to Make Right Now for a Well-Organized Life

written by Dan Silvestre

lists to make

In this post, I’ll share 10 useful lists to boost your productivity and organize your life.

I’m a big fan of making lists. They simplify my days, both at my work and personal life, setting me up for success.

Without lists, I’d feel lost. They help me take action and get things done without much thinking.

Why do I love lists?

Because they simplify tasks and turn them into routines. Lists systemize and can even automate repetitive tasks, making life easier.

Lists help you simplify life, rather than complicate it.

Here’s why you should start using lists:

  • Organization. Lists structure thoughts, tasks, and goals. They act as a visual roadmap for efficient prioritization
  • Free up mental clutter. Writing tasks down offloads information from your brain, ensuring crucial details aren’t forgotten
  • Time management. Lists assist in planning and allocating time effectively, preventing procrastination
  • Reduce stress. Lists provide a sense of control, reducing anxiety associated with uncertainty
  • Self-Reflection. Lists offer a way to reflect on achievements, challenges, and personal growth. This introspection contributes to continuous improvement

Here are my 10 favorite lists to make.

#1 A “Projects” List

​Balancing multiple projects​ can be overwhelming. How do you juggle all your obligations and track your progress effectively? By using a “Projects” List.

The “Projects” list is a central hub that consolidates all the projects you’re handling. They can be work-related, home-based, or personal ventures.

Your “Projects” List is more than just a static inventory. It’s a dynamic tool that generates actionable steps to move your projects forward.

As you work on your projects, new tasks will naturally arise. Add them to your ongoing list. The “Projects” list becomes a document that mirrors the current status of each project.

Regular check-ins with your “Projects” List are essential. Take a moment to review the status of each project.

Check completed tasks. And add the next steps toward completion to your daily and weekly to-do lists.

This simple yet powerful routine ensures that your projects remain on track. You will be making progress every week.

In the productivity game, the “Projects” List is your strategic ally. It offers clarity and focus.

#2 A “Done” List

the done list

Do you finish your days feeling unproductive even though you’ve completed many tasks?

Then you need a “done” list.

Often we’ll do tasks that are not on our to-do list and end the day feeling like we’ve been unproductive.

And that’s when the done list comes to the rescue.

The done list focuses on accomplishments rather than pending tasks. Whenever you complete a task, you add it to the “done” list.

Instead of writing down everything you need to do, write down everything you’ve gotten done.

Sometimes priorities change throughout the day. It makes you feel better when you keep track of the progress you’ve made, even if it’s not what you set out to do.

The Done List is your personal time machine. It’s not just about planning. It’s about reflecting on where your minutes are doing the most heavy lifting.

You’re not refining your task list. You’re transforming your relationship with time itself.

Start the day with a blank sheet of paper, and every time you do something, add it to the list.

Love the feeling of crossing things off? Add the small things too. Even if they were not originally on your to-do list.

#3 A “Not-To-Do” List

the not-to-do list

The most successful people I know have a narrow focus. They protect themselves against time-wasters​ and say no to almost everything.

So instead of taking on more work, you need to consider what you might stop doing.

Because here’s the truth:

What you don’t do determines what you can do.

And the best way I’ve found to decide what you won’t do is using a not-to-do list.

A ​not-to-do list​ is like a list of things you decide not to do.

These are the tasks that don’t match your goals​, drain your energy, or zap your motivation. Things you don’t like or work that’s not necessary for you.

These tasks often sneak onto your regular to-do list. You are unable to stop doing them. But deep down, you know you shouldn’t be spending time on them.

Making a not-to-do list helps you tackle these tasks once and for all.

It’s a place where you write down everything you won’t waste time and energy on anymore. So, you’re gonna delete, ​delegate​, or just say no when they try to sneak into your to-do list.

Creating your not-to-do list means you’re promising to let go of these things.

It’s like cleaning the house for your time and energy.

#4 A “Someday/Later” List

A “Someday/Later” list is a holding space for interesting projects and ideas that you can’t do right now.

Use it to capture, clarify, and “label” your ideas. Don’t worry if it’s impossible to do them right now.

Think of it as a collection bucket of epiphanies that may change your life or work later down the line. No idea is “bad”—they may just be ahead of their time.

When an idea strikes during deep work​, write it down on your “Someday/Later” list.

During your ​GTD Weekly Review​, revisit this list. If you find available time and the idea aligns with your priorities, consider moving it to your to-do list.

Regularly organize your “Someday/Later” list. Group related ideas with tags and remove obsolete items.

Now, what’s the difference between “someday” and “later”?

Tasks on the “Someday” list are things you want to do but can’t commit to immediately. It’s on your radar, but the timing is uncertain.

For example: redesigning a presentation or planning a summer vacation.

Tasks on the “Later” list are the ones you still have to decide if you want to do them or not. These are potential future pursuits. You might do them.

Items on the “Later” list are tasks you’re allowed to “not do”. It allows you to procrastinate effectively​.

For example: learning a new language or exploring a new hobby.

#5 A “Gift Idea” List

If you struggle to find the right gifts, this one is for you. Gift ideas are one of the best lists you can make to organize your life.

An ongoing “gift idea” list makes holiday time and birthdays much less stressful.

Here’s how I use a “gift idea” list:

In my “gift idea” list, I have a bunch of names written down. Think family, friends, and colleagues.

Whenever I see something or have an idea that I think would make a great gift to someone, I write it down on my “gift idea” list.

I also have gift ideas listed by type of event: weddings, baby showers, birthdays, Christmas, etc.

And next time I need to buy a present for someone, I just whip out the list that I designed especially for them. So I’m always sure to get them a memorable gift.

I also like to use the “gift idea” list for myself. Sort of a “Wish” list, if you will.

Whenever I need or want something and it can wait, I add it to my wish list. If someone asks me what I want, I can always go back to the list and tell them exactly what I need.

Use a “wish” list and you’ll never struggle again to say what you want whenever a holiday or your birthday comes up.

#6 A “Favorite Meals” List

Sometimes, I find it hard to know what to make for dinner. This is the moment my “favorite meals” list comes into action. It’s a lifesaver.

A “favorite meals” list is your list of go-to meals. The meals you already know how to make and end up being delicious every time.

Next to each favorite meal, I write a brief description of the steps as well as all the ingredients I need. This way, I can quickly scan if I have everything I need to make the meal. I also add a few tags such as “healthy”, “cheat day meals”, or “refreshing”.

With time, I’ve expanded my “favorite meals” list a little. Now, it includes breakfasts and snacks as well.

Finally, I also include a few new recipes I like to try.

Whenever I’m in the mood for something new and different, I browse ​Tasty​ and find something I like. And after a few attempts, if I like the final result, I’ll add it to my favorite meals list.

It’s like you’re designing a restaurant’s menu for yourself.

Menus make it easy for you to decide what you’re in the mood to eat. Menus make your meal planning easier.

The “favorite meals” list reduces the big task of meal planning. And it helps you cook healthy and make your life much simpler and more organized.

#7 A “Grocery” List

Of my 10 lists to make, a “grocery” list is probably the one I use the most.

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to the supermarket and forgetting something.

I use two types of “grocery” lists:

First, I use it as a shopping list. Whenever I finish some food or a household supply, I immediately write it down in this list.

Second, I have a master “grocery” list. This list includes everything I need to keep my house stocked. I list all the food and household items, separated by categories.

I quickly scan this list before going out. And I use it if I’m coming home after a long period away, like a vacation.

A master “grocery” list is time-consuming to create. But you only need to create it once and it will come in handy for a very long time.

This will make grocery shopping and your life so organized.

I have both lists on my phone so I always have it handy when I go grocery shopping. This way, all my trips to the supermarket are efficient. I don’t need to aimlessly roam the corridors trying to remember what I need.

I share my lists with my girlfriend so we both can add items to them. And we can both use it when we don’t go grocery shopping together.

#8 A “Read/Watch Later” List

Are your friends always recommending new books, movies, and shows but you draw a blank when you need them? Then you need a “read/watch Later” list.

I ​love reading books​. And I’m always looking for recommendations. So whenever a friend recommends a book I should read, I add it to my “read/watch Later” list.

From time to time, I open my “read/watch Later” list and choose 2-3 books I want to read next. I put them at the top of my list. I base this decision on what I want to learn and/or how strongly the recommendation was.

You can also include movies and shows in your “read/watch later” list. So the next time you open Netflix, you don’t need to spend half an hour to decide what to watch. You just open your “read/watch Later” list and pick one of them.

Here are a few other things you can add to your “read/watch later” list:

  • Podcasts or specific episodes
  • Documentaries
  • Articles or blogs to read

With this handy list, I don’t waste time and can pick the right entertainment for me based on my mood. So this list keeps the entertainment part of my life organized.

If you are always looking for recommendations, sign up for my free weekly newsletter​. Every Monday, I share books, movies, shows, and documentaries I’m enjoying.

#9 A “Fun” List

A “fun” list is where you write down recommendations for new things you want to try. New restaurants, spots in your city to visit, museums to see.

So when the weekend comes around or I have some free time, I look at my “fun” list and choose what I want to do with my time.

During the year, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Going out for dinner? Always the same few restaurants. Want to do something fun? You fall into the same kind of plan.

And that’s where the “fun” list comes in. It’s a list designed to bring you joy.

It’s a gentle reminder to add moments of delight, spontaneity, and amusement into your life.

You can use the “fun” list as a bucket list as well.

Add experiences you want to try, such as:

  • New activities you want to do
  • Places you want to take a vacation to
  • Specific dishes you want to try
  • Weekend getaway ideas
  • DIY craft projects
  • Lists of musical festivals you’d like to attend

#10 A “10-Minutes Tasks” List

Imagine you arrive a few minutes earlier for dinner with friends. And now you have to wait 10 minutes for them. What do you do?

If you’re like most people, you’ll mindlessly scroll on your phone.

But what if you could use that small pocket of time to do something productive?

That’s where the “10-minute tasks” list comes in. It’s a list of small tasks you can do in 10 minutes or less.

These small tasks might seem inconsequential. But when you get in the habit of making the most of your waiting or downtime, it adds up.

And there are lots of things you can do with a few minutes. ​Organize your inbox. Clear your desktop files. Make some plans. Update your to-do list.

I like to separate my tasks using categories:

  • Phone. When I’m out and I can only use my phone
  • Home. If I’m on a longer break and want to be away from my computer for a while
  • Computer. When I’m working and I have a few minutes to spare, like between meetings

I recommend you keep your “10-minute tasks” list on your phone. This way you always have it handy when you get an unexpected chunk of time and want to use it productively.

The Magical Power of Making Lists

So now you know:

To live a well-organized life, create these 10 essential lists.

Maybe you’re not a fan of the idea of planning every detail of your life. But know that some level of organization is necessary to avoid chaos. Add list-making to your productivity toolkit.

Which list should you create first? The one that makes the most sense to you.

Here’s my recommendation:

Start with one list of my recommended 10 lists to make. Get used to using it. When you’ve developed the habit, move on to the next one.

Repeat until you’re using all 10 lists in your life.

Tags:: To-Do List

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