Creating a Master To-Do List

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I love lists.  I want to get that out to you right off the bat.  There is nothing I love more than making lists.  I love bullet points, and breaking things down into super simple steps. 

My love of lists started in high school.  Then it was taking notes, and that continued through college – this was before computers were regularly used in the classroom for note taking.  Instead, notebooks and pens – I know, totally old school!

As I got older, got married, and had children, my brain filled with more and more stuff to do, and I was starting to run around in circles, making the same list day after day.  There is constantly stuff going through my mind, sometimes not letting me move onto actually completing tasks.  I hope that I am not the only one this happens to.

I started making lists, many lists, all the time, on anything that I could find – sticky notes, pads of paper, envelopes from old mail.  There were a lot of lists, and they were anything but organized.

Often, I knew that I had written stuff down on a list, but then I couldn’t find the list, and so I would have to try and make sure that I could write everything out that I needed to do or buy again.

My lists tend to be huge brain dumps, where there can be stuff I need to do today – such as put laundry in to wash, or big things like clean out the basement. 

What I found was happening was that I would constantly make the same lists again and again, with the same stuff, so clearly my “brain dumps” were not actually working.  I was still thinking about the same things, most likely because I knew I would misplace my list (read: my kids would find the list and take it thinking they should make their own list).

Last week I had enough.  Encouraged by the many list makers on Instagram (search for #listersgottalist), I decided to turn one of my blank journals into a master to-do list

Wow, was that freeing.  I know, it probably sounds completely absurd to some of you, but having that spiral journal containing everything that I need or want to do was revolutionary for me.  I can add things as I go, check things off, or when I am trying to figure out what projects I should attack for the week, I can look there, realizing that I have a million projects waiting in the wings, and one of them will probably get accomplished if I am looking at the list!

It has worked exactly like a brain dump would.  I put everything down and made little boxes that I could check off.  I’m sure I will need to make changes to how it is organized at some point. 

What has worked is the fact that I can put everything in one spot, and I know I can look there for projects that I want to work on.  What it isn’t, however, is my general “daily to-dos” such as laundry and dishes.  I am re-vamping my daily planning worksheet to work better with how I want to organize my life, and my home. 

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While I still love notepads – and have many of them around the house – I think this is going to work better for me.  Instead of constantly thinking about the things that I need to put on my list for this week I can instead look at the master list and see what needs to be accomplished.

Being able to look back on all that I have done in the last year will also give me a great feeling.  It will allow me to reflect on the year, what I have done, what I haven’t, and what I want to change to move into the next year.  I often forget all that I have accomplished due to running around with my three kids every day!

As an added bonus, it serves as a list that my husband can look at – because I know that I will not be siding the chicken coop even if it is on my list!  Perhaps not a bonus to Matt, but a bonus to me!

I have only utilized this journal for a few days, but I feel so much more at peace than I had before.  I don’t know why.  I am probably slightly crazy, but not having to keep track of single sheets of paper is helpful.  Plus, who doesn’t love checking off a box when a task is finished?

Do you have a “master to-do list” or a project binder that you use as a brain dump tool?  Are you a list maker?


  1. I love lists too! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. What a great idea! I saw your link over at Bowl Full of Lemons. I'm the same way, rewriting my to do lists over and over again. I'll have to give this a shot! Thanks for the helpful post!


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