A List of Lists

In response to Laurie’s recent blog post, I thought I’d put my two cents in on this subject as well. (I did write a little about this not too long ago – this post will provide further details of my lists.) I too am a master of lists. I have so many (and some color coded – nerdy, yes) that it bogs people’s minds – and seems to amaze them as well. Surprisingly though, I don’t get confused with all of my lists. Perhaps it’s because I tend to move items from one list to another so that I’m not looking at 50 lists at a time, but only one or two. And I try to make them as visible as possible.

So here we go:

First some background information: I am currently using two planners – a Slimline Guildford that goes with me pretty much everywhere, stocked only with the essential items I would need out and about. I also use a personal Jade Finchley that holds everything else and stays home. In addition to having lists in both Filos, I also keep various lists in my Google Documents – mainly, these lists are ones that I might need to access at work. The real reason they are stored online, however, is because they are too long to keep in either Filo.

In my stay-at-home Finchley, I have lots of lists:

  • Long-term to-dos 
  • “To buy eventually” items 
  • Places to visit and things to do while in New York City 
  • Coffee houses in the area that I would like to visit 
  • Places of interest that would make good day trips 
  • Bike trails on Long Island 
  • Notes about a medical condition 
  • Resolutions and goals for the year ahead 
  • Projects (each project gets its own colored paper and on each sheet is a list of to-do items pertaining to that specific project) 
  • Information and to-dos for a big project that I’m kind of working on now (it gets its own tabbed section because it’s something that will always be on-going and will contain lots of various information) 
  • Resistance exercises (also gets its own tabbed section – each circuit has its own sheet) 
Mainly, these lists are only referred to while at home, so there’s no need to carry them with me everywhere. The to-do and to-buy lists are “someday” items and don’t need to be in my face all of the time. Some of these items in my home-based planner will eventually be moved to my Slimline as an action that needs to be done sooner rather than later. If I want to add something to one of the home-based lists while I’m away from home, I simply write the item or idea on a Post-it, leave it on the day’s space in my calendar, and transfer the information to the appropriate list when I get home. Since it’s posted in the space for that day, I’m certain not to forget to transfer the information.

My Slimline has only the necessary lists:
  • To buy (items that need to be bought the next time I go to the store or that I need right away) 
  • Movies, books, music to add to my master lists (see below for further explanation) 
  • Blog topics and ideas 
  • Other writing topics (this is mainly for things that I want to write about in my journal – since I get the opportunity only once a week or so, I don’t want to forget important things to write about and this list makes sure that that doesn’t happen) 
  • Projects that I’m currently and actively working on, projects I might need to refer to while at work or elsewhere 
  • Yearly to-do items – Things that need to be done during a particular year or things that I want to remind myself of in the future (example: when I need to take defensive driving again, when to sort through files, etc.). These items will be moved to a monthly or weekly to-do list when the year for which it is needed becomes current. This list lives behind my “Diary” tab before the calendar sheets. 
  • Monthly to-do items – Items that need to be done during a particular month. This list is kept on a sticky sheet on the tab for that month. I use the red Post-it flag to draw my attention to the fact that things need to be done from this list. When the month arrives, I do an item right away if it can be, or I move it to either my weekly to-do list or a daily to-do list. This way, the item isn’t forgotten about and now it has a new home that sits in front of my eyes at all times. When the item is moved to a different list, it gets crossed off the monthly list. When all items have been done or moved elsewhere, I remove the red Post-it flag which lets me know that I have nothing else on my monthly to-do list. 
  • Weekly to-do items – This list lives on Day Timer’s Hot Sheets that I keep behind my Today marker between my weekly pages. These can be items that need to be done during a particular week, but more often than not, it’s a list of items that need to be done “soon” or items that I just want to remind myself of. The reason it is kept here is because I see it every time I open my planner – this way it’s not hidden behind a tab where it’s more likely to be forgotten about. 
  • Daily to-do items – Anything that needs to be done on a particular day gets written in the space for that day. If it gets done, it’s crossed off and forgotten about. If it doesn’t, it gets moved elsewhere, either to a new day or the weekly list depending on the item and how soon it needs to be accomplished. 
There is a lot of moving and maintaining with these lists. Items tend to go from one list to another before they are done completely. This might be lot of extra work, but to be honest, it works well for me. If I keep a to-do list behind a tab I won’t remember to look at it, making the list pointless. Even though there is a lot of crossing off and moving things around, this at least forces me to look at these lists every once in a while, which keeps the items semi-fresh in my mind.

As for my Google Documents lists – here is where I keep a list of books I want to read, movies I want to see, music I want to download, and TV shows to watch. The items from my list in my Filo (see above) get moved here when I get a chance. This allows me to add items when away from the computer but that will eventually be transferred to the master list. For each topic, I have a list of things to get to when I can and a list of items that are coming out at a later date. When an item on the “upcoming” list is current, I move the item to the “current” list. Items within these spreadsheets are color-coded as well – items to buy versus to request from the library versus listed in my planner for release dates (these are marked on Post-it squares and removed when the item has been purchased or requested in some fashion), etc.

This may be a dizzying list of my lists, but as complicated as it sounds, they all keep me and my items in check.


  1. What a great "list of your lists" ;)
    I think I need some lists that you have and I don't have - yet.
    Thanks for the suggestion :)

  2. Thanks Julia. Any way in which I can help... ;)

  3. Thanks for this! I love to hear how people manage their lists. And thanks so much for the link to my blog! :)

  4. Laurie, You and your blog seem to be the planner masters, so of course I must link to it. ;)


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