Learn the most important lists to make to stay organized, be productive and manage your time as a busy mom!
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Raise your hand if you love to-do lists.
I’m a complete list junkie. Making lists and checking things off is one of my favorite things ever.
If you’re not a Type-A mom, then you might have no idea what I’m talking about. But making lists can completely transform the way you manage busy mom life!
So what’s so great about lists?
Lots of things! Keeping lists can help you:
- Stay organized each day so you don’t feel like an overwhelmed mom
- Get focused and prioritize on what you need to do
- Help to de-stress your days
- Crush your goals
- Feel more in control of your time and how you’re using it
- Break the hot mess mom pattern
Those are all good things, right?
If you’re not making lists on the regular, then it’s time to get into the habit. The key is knowing which lists to make and what to put on them.
And that’s what I’m going to help you with today. So grab a notebook and a pen and let’s dig in!
Lists to Make to Organize Your Mom Life
Before you start making lists, let me make one little suggestion: write them out by hand.
Keeping lists on your phone or your computer can be convenient. But I’ve found that I’m more likely to connect with my thoughts and take action on my lists when they’re handwritten.
Now, on to the most helpful lists to make@
1. Brain dump list
If you don’t know what a brain dump is, let me explain.
A brain dump just means writing down a list of whatever’s on your mind at a particular moment.
For example, your brain dump list might include:
- Errands you need to run
- Chores you need to do
- Tasks you’ve been putting off
- Projects you want to work on
- Books you want to read
- Things that are bugging you
- Things that are causing you stress
It’s the mental equivalent of turning your purse upside down and dumping out all the contents.
A brain dump helps you get it all out of your head. Once you’ve got your thoughts on paper, you can start sifting through them to figure out:
- What you need to take action on
- What can wait
- What you can eliminate altogether
A brain dump is something you can do at the beginning of the week or each day if you’ve got a lot to juggle as a busy mom.
2. To-do lists
To-do lists are my favorite kind of lists to make for staying organized.
I like to make my to-do list for the week on Sunday evenings. Then I break it down and assign specific to-do’s to different days.
One of the best ways to approach your to-do list is to keep it simple.
Stick with three to five items you need to tackle per day, no more. Otherwise, you’ll just get overwhelmed.
3. “Done” lists
If you’ve never tried keeping a “done” list before, this little hack is a game-changer.
A “done” list is just a list of all the things you’ve managed to get done in a day, a week, a month.
I like keeping a done list of everything I do for the week, including things that may not have made it onto my to-do list.
That way, I can look back and see just how much I accomplished.
This is also a good way to gauge how you’re using your time.
Try keeping a done list for a week. Then look at all the things on to see where you’re giving your time to the most.
From there, you can start prioritizing and weeding out the things that are time-wasters.
If you struggle with staying on top of your time as a busy mom, this is one of the best lists to make for getting back some of those precious minutes or hours.
Read this post next for more time-saving tips:
4. Routines list
Routines are one of the keys to staying organized as a busy mom.
Whether you work at home or you’re a stay at home mom, having routines in place can make your life so much easier.
If you’re not using routines yet, then it’s time to start some!
When deciding which lists to make, be sure to include some for different routines that make managing mom life easier.
5. Meal plan list
Meal planning is such a life-saver when you’re a busy mom.
Having a go-to meal plan you can follow for the week (or the entire month if you’re really ambitious) can make getting dinner done so much easier.
Keeping meal planning lists for the week means you can see what you’re making for dinner at a glance.
And this can also make grocery shopping a breeze, too!
I’ve got some free meal planning printables you can grab in the Busy Mom Vault. But if you’re looking for an easier meal planning option, check out $5 Meal Plan!
With $5 Meal Plan, you pay just $5 to get premade meal plans. It can save you time and headaches when you’re trying to put dinner together.
6. Recipes to try list
When you’ve got kids, it can be easy to fall into a recipe rut, especially if they’re picky eaters.
Keeping a list of new recipes to try can help you mix things up now and then so you don’t get stuck eating the same old things over and over.
A really easy way to create this kind of list is to set up a Pinterest board just for new recipes.
As you’re scrolling for new dinner ideas, you can just save them to your board and come back to them later when you have time.
Read this post for some quick and easy meal ideas:
7. Grocery list
Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite chores but it’s not something you can get out of.
So one way to make shopping for groceries less stressful is by keeping a running grocery list.
There are different ways you can shape your list.
For example, my friend always organizes her grocery list by department. So she’s got a category for dairy, one for meats, one for dry goods — you get the idea.
You could also keep a running grocery list of things you buy regularly. It’s up to you how to organize it.
Having a grocery list means that you don’t forget anything while you’re shopping.
8. Pantry list
When you’re checking your grocery list for the week, it helps to know what you already have on hand.
Otherwise, you could end up buying things you don’t really need.
This is why a pantry inventory is one of the most useful lists to make for organizing your life.
Having a go-to list of things you stock in the pantry can clue you in when you’re running low on something. And it can help you avoid wasting money buying things unnecessarily.
Read this post for some amazing pantry organization hacks:
9. Decluttering list
Decluttering regularly can make your home feel more livable so you aren’t overwhelmed by the mess.
But if you’re just starting to declutter, it helps to have a plan to follow.
Keeping a running checklist of things to declutter monthly or quarterly can help you pinpoint where to focus your clean-up efforts.
Read these posts for tips on how to start your decluttering list:
10. Things to donate list
As you declutter, you’ll need to decide:
- What to keep
- What to throw away
- What you might be able to sell
- What to donate
If you declutter regularly, keep a separate of things that usually get donated. For example, that might include clothes, books or kids’ toys.
When you donate, add the details to your list.
Include what you donated, when and to which organization. And be sure to get a receipt if you’re planning to deduct the donation on your taxes.
11. Weekly errands list
Having a to-do list can help you plan your days at home. But if you have to venture out, it helps to have an errands list as well.
At the beginning of the week, make a list of all the errands you have to run, like:
- Grocery shopping
- Going to the post office
- Taking the kids to the dentist
- Dropping off decluttered items to donate
Then, organize your errands so you’re making as few trips as possible.
This can help you save time and money since you’re not wasting gas making multiple trips.
12. Self-care ideas list
Self-care is a must for busy moms.
Even if you can only squeeze it in a few minutes a day, it’s still important to make time for yourself.
If you don’t know where to start, try keeping a list of different self-care ideas you’d like to try.
Then when you get some time, you can whip out your list and pick a soothing way to spend it.
Read these posts for some calming self-care ideas:
13. Books to read list
Are you always looking for a good book to read?
Keeping a list of books you want to check out can keep you from hitting any reading dry spells.
And if you don’t have time to sit down and read, you can always keep a list of audiobooks you want to listen to.
I love Audible for listening to books when I don’t have time to read them.
14. Movies to watch list
Movies can be a great way to entertain yourself (and the kids) when you can’t get out of the house.
Plus, watching movies at home can save you tons of money.
So along with your books to read list, keep a list of movies you want to watch.
We stream movies with Amazon Prime and there are always tons to choose from. Plus, there are lots of family-friendly TV shows and documentaries, too.
15. Podcasts to listen to list
Podcasts can offer inspiration on the go.
If you love podcasts, make a list of your favorites and ones you want to check out next.
As you get podcast recommendations, you can add them to the list so you can tune in when you have time.
16. Packing lists
Taking trips as a family is fun but the packing part of it? Not so much.
Having some ready-made packing lists to follow can make this part of your trip easier.
And you can also create packing lists for:
- Overnight trips to friends’ or grandparents’ houses
- Work-related travel
- Camping trips
- Summer camp stays for the kids
That way, when a trip comes up you can pull out your list and get the packing done in no time!
17. Account logins list
I don’t know about you but I struggle with remembering all the different user IDs and passwords I have for various online accounts.
Keeping a master account logins list means you’ll never get locked out again because you guessed the wrong password:
You can make login lists for:
- Email accounts
- Bank and credit card accounts
- Streaming subscription accounts
- Investment and savings accounts
- Work- or business-related accounts
Just be sure that you’re storing your lists in a safe place. A digital password keeper, for example, is more secure than keeping a handwritten list in your wallet.
18. Monthly bills list
Paying bills might be one of your least favorite mom chores. But keeping a bills to pay list can make it easier.
Each month, you can jot down all of the bills that are due for that month and their due date.
As you pay them, you can check them off the list.
This is a simple way to organize bills and stay on top of your budget.
19. Quarterly and annual bills list
Some bills you might not pay each month.
Instead, you might pay them quarterly, biannually or annually. So that includes things like:
- Property taxes
- Homeowners insurance
- Car insurance
- Propane delivery if you have gas heat
And those are the bills that are so easy to forget about.
So in addition to your monthly bills list, keep a separate list that has all your irregular bills so nothing slips through the cracks.
20. Financial to-do list
Managing your finances means more than just paying the bills. So one of my favorite lists to make is a financial to-do list.
This is a list of things you need to do or want to do when it comes to your money.
For example, your list might include:
- Reviewing your budget
- Streamlining your bank accounts and closing ones you don’t need
- Looking for a better checking account with fewer fees
- Paying off one or more of your credit cards
- Opening a college savings account for your kids
- Buying life insurance if you don’t have it
- Saving more money for retirement each month
As you cross financial tasks off your list, you can just add new ones to keep improving your money situation.
21. Home maintenance list
Owning a home is a big investment and you want to make sure you’re protecting it.
Starting a home maintenance list can help. For example, you can make a list of:
- Things you need to do monthly (like changing out air filters)
- Things you need to do seasonally (like having your chimney cleaned before winter sets in)
- Home improvements you want to make (like updating your kitchen)
- Large-scale home repairs you need to plan for (like replacing your roof or HVAC system)
Getting into a regular home maintenance routine with a handy list can keep your home in good condition.
And if you’re planning for major repair or renovations, you can use your list to map out a home improvement budget.
22. Home management list
Running a house as a busy mom isn’t easy by any means.
After all, there’s just so much to do!
But you can stay organized with home management lists.
This can take a checklist format and include:
- Daily and weekly cleaning schedules
- Organization hacks for individual rooms (like a toy rotation for your kids’ rooms)
- Laundry system lists
- Deep cleaning tasks
- Spring cleaning checklists
Once you get in the habit of making these lists, you’ll find that your home practically runs itself!
23. Current projects list
A current projects list is one of the more helpful lists to make if you’re a crafty mom, you run a business or you’ve got a lot of hobbies.
This list can include all the different projects you’re working on, like:
- School projects you’re helping your kids with
- Your side hustle or blog, if you’re a mom blogger too!
- Home improvements that are in progress
- Crafts that are in progress
A project list is an easy way to see if you’re doing too much. And if you are, you can prioritize which projects to wrap up and which ones to put on hold.
24. Seasonal bucket lists
Bucket lists are fun lists to make for the whole family because you can plan them by theme or season.
For example, you might have a summer bucket list of things to do at home with your kids.
Or you might create a bucket list of places you want to travel to as a family.
Writing bucket lists is something you can do as a family, which makes the planning that much more fun!
25. Goals list
I love setting goals and I love achieving them even more!
If you’re not setting goals or keeping track of them, this is one of the most important lists to make.
And you can make more than one goals list, too.
For example, you could have a list for:
- Short-term goals
- Long-term goals
- Financial goals
- “Big dreams” goals
When creating your goals lists, consider using the S.M.A.R.T. system. That means making your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
This can seriously boost your odds of achieving them!
26. Gratitude list
Even when life gets tough (looking at you, 2020) it’s always good to try and find the silver lining.
Keeping a gratitude journal to record the things you’re thankful for each day can make getting through the more difficult days a little easier.
27. Birthday, special occasion and holiday card lists
So here’s a confession: I never send out birthday or holiday cards.
Because I never remember them.
But I want you to be more organized when it comes to that so it’s why I’m including a card list on this list of lists.
(Try saying that 10 times fast. 🙂 )
Make a note of the most important birthdays, holidays and other special occasions you want to remember each year.
Then, make a note of each person you want to send cards to, including their address.
At the beginning of each month, you can scan the list so you know which cards to send and when to mail them out.
28. Birthday, special occasion and holiday shopping lists
Aside from cards, it’s also smart to keep a running list of gift ideas for birthdays, special occasions and holidays.
You can make this a general list where you jot down gift ideas as you come across them. Or you can get really specific and include notes for each person, like:
- What size clothing they wear
- Where they prefer to shop
- What their hobbies are
- What their likes/dislikes are
As you buy gifts throughout the year for birthdays or special occasions, you can cross those off the list. It’s an easy-peasy way to stay on top of gifting!
29. How-to lists
How-to lists can be a life-saver if there are things you need to remember but you don’t want to necessarily commit to memory.
But what kind of how-to lists to make?
Here a few checklist ideas:
- How to program your DVR
- How to change a flat tire (if you don’t have AAA)
- How to install your storm shutters
- How to file your taxes
30. Child care checklist
While you might want to always be the one taking care of your kids, there are times when you might need someone else to step in.
If you’re hiring a babysitter, a child care checklist can help make their job easier.
For instance, your list might include:
- Foods your kids are (or aren’t) allowed to have
- Bedtime routines
- Suggestions for activities to keep them busy
- Guidelines for screen time
- Any allergies your kids might have
- Emergency contact and medical information in case they get sick or hurt
This is one of the best lists to make for your peace of mind if you’re leaving your kids with someone else.
31. Not to-do list
The last of the lists to make might just be the most important.
This is a list of things you’re NOT going to do as a busy mom.
That means things like not:
- Comparing yourself to others
- Feeling like you just have to do it all
- Overcommitting yourself
- Neglecting your sleep
- Putting your physical and mental health on the backburner
- Beating yourself up because you aren’t a perfect supermom
Think of this as a grace list if that helps.
What are your favorite kinds of lists to make?
Lists can help solve a lot of the challenges of being a busy mom.
They can help you stay organized and together so you’re not scrambling to get things done.
What are your favorite lists to make to stay organized? Head to the comments and tell me about it.
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