Need Motivation? Why You Should Make a List


I love lists.

To-do lists, shopping lists, bucket lists, BuzzFeed… all of them!

In fact, I have several lists going at any one time. I have a dry erase board on the fridge for groceries, a post-it for to-dos, and a corkboard filled with aspirational vacation destinations that I hope to cross off, one by one.

In this age of information overload, reduced focus and productivity, sometimes it’s nice to put your device down and have a manual download session. Taking the time to physically spell out your intention is the first step in achieving your desired result.

I have a pad of paper and a pen by my bed because more than once I have woken in the night and remembered that I needed to check the battery in the smoke alarm or to send a birthday present. I jot down the note and instantly fall back asleep. If it is on my to-do list, then I don’t need to worry about it anymore – it will get done.

If I go to the grocery store without a list, it can go sideways pretty quickly. I will often buy what I want rather than what I need, and it turns into a very meandering trip, rather than a functional stopover. I find that referring back to my list saves time, money, and energy – all of which could be better spent.

Aside from the usual grocery and to-do lists, I have also found that writing out personal and professional goals is a great way of evaluating your current path, processing your objective, and determining a new way forward. When you are intentional and write down specific goals, you are better able to clarify what you actually want, and focus on how to achieve it.

When you are intentional and write down specific goals, you are better able to clarify what you actually want, and focus on how to achieve it.

The first step in achieving a goal, is setting a goal. Think about you want to achieve or do in the coming weeks, months, and year. Do you want to save money for a holiday? Do you want to change careers? Do you want to grow your own vegetables? Big or small, write them down, and set target dates for completion.

Once you have determined and written down specific goals, you may want to write down the steps you need to take to achieve them. These are sometimes referred to as subgoals – smaller tasks that form part of a larger overall objective. If you want to change careers and you have no idea where to start, you will want to research the tangible actions needed to achieve the greater goal.

It is equally important to evaluate and celebrate your successes. It is easy to feel discouraged when we don’t accomplish everything we set out to do, or we compare our life to the perfect picture painted on social media. By referring back to our list of successes and achievements, we can recognize and acknowledge our progress, which will help keep us motivated.

Motivation comes from fulfillment, but it also comes from within. According to an article in Psychology Today, when you complete a task and feel that sense of accomplishment, your brain releases dopamine, known as the “feel good” hormone, which will motivate you to follow through on other goals.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with our day-to-day obligations, work-life balance, and societal pressures. Creating and making use of a list can help us feel more productive, reduce mental clutter, and relieve stress. Hanging your list of goals in a place of prominence will help to motivate you and inspire action. Lists are valuable tools that can help us create real change in our lives. They encourage us, keep us on track, and remind us of all that is possible.

What’s one thing you hope to cross off your list this week?

Featured Image via Bridgette Colleen

Kimberly is a writer for the screen (TV, movie, computer), and an "Ideas Machine" from Canada. Her hobbies include eating, drinking, laughing and dreaming dreams. Her weekly comedic musings can be viewed on her website.

  • Sam December 9, 2016

    I love lists! I feel like it helps us stay accountable for what we need to do as well. I love your writing. I’m a big believer in taking the time to write about one topic more in depth and I like that you did that. Great post!


  • Ivana November 14, 2016

    I´m not always so good organized, but I really love lists! I always write down a yearly to do – goals list, and I like to check on it every now and then, it helped me always to make progress and improve myself!

  • Megan October 27, 2016

    I am a lover of lists as well! Not only does it keep my thoughts from daydreaming away – it helps me to work on single tasks at a time which has been huge for my productivity!

    Megan |

  • Hannah October 16, 2016

    I love lists too 🙂 just taking the time to write them down feels like one step closer to achieving them. I make grocery lists, weekly to do lists, goals for each year or month and life goals or bucket lists and of course dream lists!

    • Kimberly October 16, 2016

      Hi Hannah, thanks for your comment! I agree – writing them down is the first step! We have family meetings with my immediate family where we talk about, and write down life goals (short-term and long-term), which gets me motivated to achieve them! 🙂

  • Amanda October 14, 2016

    I also find that making lists helps me stay on track and manage my time better. If I can visually see all that I need to accomplish for the day, I seem to allot my time accordingly. I have tried using various phone apps and digital post-its, but nothing works as well as a good old notebook and pen. Being able to physically cross off an item on my list gives me satisfaction and helps keep me more productive during my day.

    • Kimberly Manky October 15, 2016

      Hi Amanda! Thanks for your comment. I agree with you about having it on paper! I don’t want to have to log in to an app – I will most certainly get sidetracked with a text or email. I enjoy crossing things off a list way too much! 😉

  • Mimi October 13, 2016

    I literally just wrote down a list of all the silly things I keep meaning to do (like catch up on new seasons of Netflix shows, look up new podcasts, etc.) because I am forever saying I want to do things, but never making the time to do them!

    • Kimberly October 14, 2016

      Hi Mimi! Your comment made my day! I’m so glad to hear the article spurred you to action! 🙂

  • Natalie October 13, 2016

    Oh man do I love a list, writing things down helps me sort out my thoughts and actually remember what it is I have to do. Great post – thanks so much

    – Natalie

    • Kimberly October 13, 2016

      Thanks for your comment Natalie. I had hoped this was a good reminder for us all to write things down, and make it happen!

  • Kimberly October 13, 2016

    Hi Marie, Thanks for your comment! I’m definitely a visual learner, and I think writing things down leaves an imprint on my brain. I have about seven lists going at any one time! 🙂

  • Marie Therese Batt October 13, 2016

    I’m a big fan of physically writing a list down, too. I find that even if I write my daily goals in the wee hours of the morning, and forget them throughout the day, I actually DO them, without realizing that I’m doing what I wrote down. I think listing them physically leaves a better impression on my mind. Yay for lists 🙂

    • Kimberly October 13, 2016

      Hi Marie, Thanks for your comment! I’m definitely a visual learner, and I think writing things down leaves an imprint on my brain. I have about seven lists going at any one time! ?