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Why We Love Lists


I LOVE to make Lists.

Always have.

In fact, even as far back as grammar school, maybe as young as 2nd grade, each night before I went to bed, I’d write a list of the things I had to do the next day. A very detailed list.

Something like:

To Do
Wake up
Take shower
Get dressed
Brush hair
Eat breakfast
Brush teeth
Feed dog
Go to school
Come home
Do chores (a whole other list *YAY!*)
Eat Dinner
Watch TV
Go to Bed

As if I’d forget to wake up, brush my hair or go to school. And I certainly wasn’t going to forget to watch TV.

In my early twenties, as a stay-at-home mom, I became an extreme list maker (not for the faint of heart). I had lists for everything. At one time I created a list that contained a 6-week meal plan – breakfast, lunch and dinner menus for my family– and the weekly grocery lists for each were attached.

I had my household chore lists.

Exercise lists.

Project lists.

And of course, I had my “Goals”; lists of things I wanted to accomplish that week, that month, or year, or in 5 years.

Now that I look back on it, it seems sort of ridiculous. But for whatever reason I felt the need to do it. (No psycho-analyzing, please!) These days most of the lists I make have to do with work – as an event planner there’s no getting away without a list. I guess I have the perfect career.

So I like lists. I can admit it. But I know I’m not alone. Other people make lists, too.

They make to-do lists, grocery lists, project lists, bucket lists, etc. 

David Letterman’s Top 10 List has become a pop-cultural phenomenon.

Every day I see a new list pop-up on the internet, i.e., 1000 Places To See Before You Die, 100 Best Films of All Time; 10 Ways to Improve Your Website, 7 Common Twitter Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes, the “lists” go on and on.

There are a lot of reasons people make lists. But have you noticed how good it feels to check something off your list? Think back… Did you complete a task and then when you went back to cross it off, found that it wasn’t on your list? What did you do?  I bet you added it to your list, just so you could immediately cross it off. Come on admit it. You did, didn’t you?

It just feels good. I’ve heard it said that it actually creates an endorphin release when you check a task off your list. Perhaps that’s what’s going on. I’ve been getting high on lists all these years and didn’t know it.

Well, in the spirit of lists, here are my Top Ten Reasons Why People Like Making Lists:

  1. Making lists keeps us organized.
  2. A To Do List helps us focus on what we need to accomplish each day.
  3. Writing things down (especially before bed) clears our minds thus releasing tension (you won’t worry about forgetting something important).
  4. A Pro/Con List helps us consider both sides of a matter when decision-making.
  5. Project lists make it easier to see the whole picture, thus helping prioritize tasks.
  6. A Grocery List saves time since we won’t be making a trip back to the store because we forgot something. 
  7. Grocery Lists have also been proven to save people money, when we follow them, that is.
  8. Checking items off our list gives an endorphin rush.
  9. We accomplish more when we have written goals.
  10. We can feel proud when we look back at past lists to see what we’ve accomplished.

4 thoughts on “Why We Love Lists

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