Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year, New List by Sandra Ardoin

Have you ever walked into your office, sat down, placed your hands on the keyboard, and stared at the blank screen wondering what to do first?

One of the stories my husband loves to tell is about the time I sent our toddler to her room at the end of the day to put her toys away. When he checked on her a few minutes later, he found her standing in the middle of the mess staring at it. She was overwhelmed and had no idea where to start. Daddy to the rescue. (Okay, so I didn’t get the Parent of the Year award.)

Writers are responsible for much more than “bleeding” on the page. At times, we can feel like my daughter—overwhelmed by all the tasks in front of us—both business and personal. The list seems endless, which brings us to the point of this post—lists.

I love lists. They’re my lifeline to sanity.

There are days when things spin so fast in my mind the focus disappears and I forget half of what needs to be done. Here are a few simple reasons why that to-do list is a must for writers or anyone else juggling their way through life. 

They ...

  • Keep important jobs from slipping through the cracks. How many times have you ended your day on a groan because you forgot to do something important? Maybe it was a phone call to make or an email to send—a little, but significant task. Writing it down means it won’t be forgotten. (Put off, maybe, but not forgotten.)
  • Relieve stress. When I know there are things I need to do, but also know I’m forgetting something, my blood pressure rises. 
  • Battle procrastination. A written need nags at us louder than an unwritten one.
  • Allow for organization. Once the list is written, prioritize what needs to be done. Sometimes, I’ll number each item in the order I want to work on them. 
  • Create a sense of accomplishment. Be realistic. Not everything can be finished in one day, so it might remain on your list for some time. But for those that can be finished, find a red pen. Each time a task is completed, mark through it, then take a deep breath and smile. It’s good for your health. (If you really want to celebrate, take a bite of dark chocolate—one bite per item accomplished.)
  • Help with word count goals. Writers generally keep a daily word count goal. Write down that goal at the beginning of the day. Seeing a realistic number in print can make it more attainable.

Paper notepads are my friends. Trees? Let’s just say they cower in fear.

Besides notepads, I’ll write my list on a white board. Maybe you have a high-tech way to keep organized. Use whatever works for you. The important thing is to see what you’re dealing with at the beginning of the day and see how far you’ve come at the end of it. 

Happy New Year!

Are you a list maker? How do you go about it?


Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody

A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. 

Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.


  1. I have a new list app on my phone. It's very handy and I just swipe my finger over an item to cross it off. It also cheers me on :)

    1. I don't do well with lists on devices. I work best with pen and paper. But I love the idea that it cheers you when you complete a task and cross it off! I can understand where it would be fun to complete something just to hear the encouragement! :)

  2. I need lists desperately. I'm such a procrastinator. Not to mention I'm forgetful. Together that is a deadly combination. Like you, I like a paper list.

  3. Sorry, y'all, but it's been raining cats and dogs here and my internet has been down. If you've tried to leave a comment and it hasn't gone through because I couldn't approve it, please try it again.

    Here's one from Robin Mason:

    How did I describe this in an old MS.... master list maker, mini-lists, master lists, list OF lists..... had to centralize and create an excel spreadsheet—BUT I still start with notes scribbled on PAPER—envelopes, scraps, fresh clean sheets, the back of not-fresh clean sheets.....

    Thanks, Robin! Yes, I tend to have notes on odd scraps, too! I use the backs of old shopping lists and other scraps. Waste not, want not! :)

  4. I'm a huge list maker! I tend to write them on a pad of paper on my desk because I experience a lot of satisfaction when I can cross off the completed tasks.

    1. Yep. Crossing off those little puppies can bring a smile to our faces! :)


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!