Behold, the Power of the List!

If you were to take a look at the papers on my desk, you’d find a running theme whether they are work or family related – tons of lists.  A long time ago lists became a powerful tool in my arsenal against attention deficit disorder and saying yes to too many things.  I have always spread myself too thin, and keeping track of individual components inside larger tasks seems to be the best way for all of the things I’m juggling to not come crashing down around me.  But lists can also be a mom’s best friend, and I’m not just talking about the inevitable parenting tasks throughout the day that begin with walking your child to the bus stop and end with a PTA meeting. You might also consider creating reusable lists that will, in the end, save you time and even money.  A good place to start is in the…


Create a list of standard items that you use to stock your pantry, and consider categorizing them according to areas such as soups, baking goods, and perishables.  Print out several copies of the list and attach them to the inside of your pantry door.  As you begin to use the last of each item – not when you use the last one, but just before – circle that item on the list. The next time you head to the grocery store, pull a copy and take it along for easier restocking.

Grocery List

Just like the list in your pantry, create a file on your computer with all of the items you buy every week.  For us that is milk, cereal, bread, juice boxes for lunches, my caffeine crutch Dr. Pepper, and several other staples.  On this list be sure to leave several lines to add meal specific items or one time only purchases such as snack for the preschool.  If you also create an area for meal planning, you’ll save yourself time by keeping meal ideas handy when you’re shopping for the ingredients.

Medicine Cabinet

I absolutely hate when I am taking my contacts out at night and realize that I’ve only got a few drops of saline solution left in my bottle….and it’s the last bottle.  Chances are that your medicine cabinet has just as many items that you need to replace on a regular basis as your pantry.  By listing not only those things that you use regularly – deodorant, shampoo, soap – but also those items that you don’t want to be without when you need them – children’s fever reducer, anti-nausea medicine, alcohol swabs – you will take the guess work out of shopping and prevent a desperate run to the store during times of illness or injury.


Every time my family goes on a trip, I create several lists including what to pack.  What I noticed after awhile is that the lists were almost always identical.  Socks x ___, underwear x ____, pajamas, outfits x _____, etc.  By creating a general list and saving it on your computer, you can save time and energy when preparing for your next trip, and it is far less likely that you will forget a critical item.

Hall Closet

Every Saturday morning my husband and I divide and conquer with him heading to soccer with our son and me heading to ballet with our daughter.  Soccer requires a ball, a water bottle, a jersey, special socks and shin guards.  Ballet requires all sorts of bells and whistles to keep my daughter’s hair in place, tights, a leotard, and tiny little ballet slippers that seem to always disappear.  By placing a list inside the hall closet door listing what is required for each activity, it takes the guess work out of getting ready in times when you’re rushing or when another child care provider is in charge.

Where do you use lists in your daily life to stay organized and resourceful? And by the way, extra credit points if you noticed that this blog post is…..a list.

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  • I use lists everyday! I sometimes have lists of my lists! …omg perhaps I’m taking it over board. I must say that list truly do help me feel better in general because organization = sanity. I really like your idea of making a pantry list to keep up with what needs replacing!

  • I write a list at night of what needs to be done the next day. I write a list in the morning of what I am going to do for the day. lists lists would not get anything done if I didnt and I feel a sense of accomplishment w hen I check it off my list that I got something done

  • You’re ideas are right on target! We sue lists a lot as well. But now that we’ve both got Android phones we use apps for that 😉 ! We love the Our Groceries app on Android for instantly updating grocery lists and really any store we frequent. I’ve made separate lists for Costco, Winco, Wal-mart, Lowes etc. I even started a list for things to watch for (on sale). Theses are shared lists that update automatically!

  • I am a huge list maker, like yourself, I spread myself way too thin and the brain just can not keep up! I have work lists, home, cleaning, menu for the month that basically rotates with a new recipe once each week or two. Homeschool lists, gardening and books! How could anyone live or manage without the handy dandy List? There are a few great apps for iPhone that allow you keep up with your lists too!

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  • Keep your kids’ sports/dance gear in one place by designating a bag fr ach sport/activty. We place all bags in a wooden toy chest with a lid. No more scrambling for shin guards.

    I keep a list on the fridge. I don’t shop with a list, but use the fridge list to jog my memory.

    I use for to do lists.

  • Great list! I also keep a list on my freezer door to keep track of what’s in there. And I’m not a very good housekeeper by nature, so I made and laminated a set of daily household chore lists. I *love* a good list.

  • This is a great article! The nice thing for us about using pantry and grocery lists is that not only do they save us time and stress, they also save us money by keeping trips to the grocery store focused on what we need to get and by not having to make trips back for forgotten items.

  • Great ideas here!

    I actually find list-writing to be kind of theraputic. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, just writing down the actual to-do list helps assure me that I won’t forget anything important, and it’s nice to be able to SEE your progress as you cross things off.

  • […] Amy at Resourceful Mommy explained the power of lists […]

  • […] Create a list of standard items that you use to stock your pantry, and consider categorizing them according to areas such as soups, baking goods, and perishables.  Print out several copies of the list and attach them to the inside of your pantry door.  Continue reading… […]