The Power of a Master List

Master List: Get Organized

Tired of trying to work at a desk cluttered by post-it notes?

Tired of trying to remember exactly where you put that to-do list you wrote just this morning?

Tired of trying to remember all the ideas, mental notes and lists you create in your head all day long?

And all of this on top of the bazillion “to-dos” on your plate that needed attention yesterday!

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

There’s a simple solution … embrace a Master List.

Embrace may seem a strange word to use in connection with a seemingly simple list. But I can honestly say I love my master list. I’d be lost without it. Actually, my head would explode without it!

So what exactly is a Master List?

Have you heard of a brain dump? Well, a master list is just that. A single place to dump all the to-dos, ideas, mental notes and lists you’ve been trying to carry in your head.

The key here is to choose just one tool … a simple notebook, or electronic tool that is easy to access and can be with you at all times (or at least most of the time).

No more searching for scattered post-its, or scraps of paper.

No more relying on memory.

Everything that’s important and a priority is now in one place at your fingertips.

This is the Power of a Master List!

What goes on a Master List?


The idea is to clear-up mental clutter and overwhelm by getting everything out of your head and on to paper.

Don’t worry about the list becoming long and random – that’s the idea.

My own list includes:

  • To-dos (short-term and long-term)
  • Goals
  • Books to read
  • Places I’d like to visit
  • Things to buy

Note: I love the simplicity of just one list – so I’m fine with mixing personal and business. You may decide to separate the two, and that’s fine too.

How to Create Your Own Master List:

  • Choose your favorite tool: pen/paper, computer, or favorite note-taking app.
  • Sit down and write anything and everything that’s in your head: need to do, want to do, should do, might do, etc. You get the idea.
  • Gather any loose notes, post-its, etc. and add those items to your list.
  • How about any other half-started, abandoned lists? Add those items too.
  • Now walk around your house and/or office and write down any other things that come to mind not already on your list.

Whew! Long and random, right? This is good, because now your brain can stop trying to remember all this stuff and move on to actually processing and doing what’s important.

How to use your Master List?

Now it’s time to apply some basic organizing principles to your list.

Step 1:  Purge! Is there anything listed that realistically will never happen? Cross it off. Is there anything that can be delegated to someone else? Pass it on.

Step 2: Add some order by identify “like-items.” If your list is indeed long and random, it will help to create some type of key or coding system to identify similar items. For example, I simply color-code my bullets to visually identify listed items as either personal or business. Additional keys can be used to identify long-term vs. short-term, tasks vs. pleasure. Be as creative as you’d like.

Step 3: Look for time-sensitive and/or simple, easy-to-handle tasks. Put them on the calendar, or your daily planner/to-do list. Check them off the Master List.

Step 4: Review your Master List regularly and move priority items to your daily calendar or planner.

Take these simple steps and discover the power of your own Master List.

What is your personal list-making system? Leave a reply and let me know. I’m always interested in learning more about you.

Happy Organizing!

Kim Cossette Organizer

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