The Joy of Making Lists: Organization and Stress Management Skills!

Alexandra Struble , Managing Editor, Sports & Wellness

Lists are everywhere. I have lists of homework to complete, things to do before college, and what I need to buy at Target. I love lists. They keep me organized and are not only fun to make, but they also allow for the satisfying feeling of being able to check things off when you complete them. Most importantly, they are an important tool used to manage stress. I have been making lists ever since my mom gave me my first chore list when I was five or six years old. Of course, back then my lists only consisted of smaller things, like make my bed and fold my laundry. Now, my lists have evolved to everything from the tasks I need to get done before college starts to, surprisingly still, folding my laundry.

Creating lists and accomplishing the items on them brings about a special kind of joy that can only be derived from this one experience. Not only is the process of making a list an enjoyable one, but when you are able to put the check in the box or cross off an item, lists bring about a sense of accomplishment and success.

During AP/IB testing or in the weeks leading up to spring break, stress is at its all time high. To get through these chaotic times, I make lists. I set aside time in my busy schedule of Breezes, Orchestra, Nordic, and more to make a master list. I pulled out my colored pens and notebook paper and sat down with my dog. A list cannot simply be made: it is carefully curated.

First, the most important thing is to make a rough draft list of everything you have to complete, including school things, home things and anything else going on. The best way to make a list is to approach it like an English paper. From there, the joy begins. The cathartic process of sorting everything into different colors and making a plan for each day relieves the stress of being constantly busy.

Building a day-by-day plan of which assignments take priority for that day helps me stay on top of  the events in my life. It also enables me to make a study plan and prioritize the projects and assignments due tomorrow and the ones that can wait until tomorrow night or the weekend. Lists bring joy and relieve stress by providing a calm within the storm of high school. They are an amazing organizational tool that is personalized to each individual.

Lists bring joy through the preparation. I have close to one hundred colored pens and markers that I use for list-making. I love using different colored pens and styles of calligraphy to create my lists. My favorite pens are the Staedtler triplus fineliner pens. They have so many colors and are great for writing small. There are always new types of pens and new colors that come out to keep list making from becoming dull. Using a planner can get mundane after a while and can make you feel like you are always penciling in the same things. With lists, they are a personalized calendar, and the variety of writing utensils and styles always make them engaging. The variations keep you focused and on task instead of making a person bored by the same old to-do list in pencil or black pen.

My list-making may have seemed excessive at the time, but it got me through the stressful times of high school when it seems you never have a minute to relax. Ultimately, everyone has their own style. For some, a simple planner does the trick, but for me, lists are the way to go.