"In the United States, we are so focused on tallied success when it comes to the work place," says Moorea Seal.
We've reached peak "To Do List," with countless frameworks, organizing principles, ordering suggestions and list-making strategies designed to help you accomplish more, forget less, and organize your life. But these action-oriented lists miss something key: lists can have incredible power beyond productivity.
Seal is the author of "The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration," and the upcoming "52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy," and she sees the potential for list making to expand creativity, happiness and mindfulness, not just productivity.
"List making is such a straightforward way to manage goals and tasks within the work place and at home," Seal says, "Why not apply that same method that we are all so comfortable utilizing daily to pursuing self-respect, creativity, happiness, and any another other personal goal?"
Seal suggests using lists to explore you ideas, dreams, goals, favorites, talents, memories, fears, and more. Many turn to journaling as a way of tracking these types of thoughts--with Morning Pages, nightly recaps of the day or structured writing time--but the open-ended nature of journaling can result in bank-page paralysis or overwhelm.
"When exploring a concept or an idea in the form of a list, you are able to be more concise in making connections between various brainstorms and subjects," Seal says.
"Lists are the fastest way to get ideas onto paper and access conclusion and deeper insight into whatever subject you are exploring, be it business, personal empowerment, or happiness," Seal says, "And once you have come to your conclusions through writing a list, putting that insight into action is just a step away."
Tips For Better Lists
Set An Intention: "The best way to avoid being overwhelmed with a list is to set an intention before starting your list," Seal says. Decide what you'd like to explore and focus on filling the page with your thoughts on that theme.
Use Pen: "When you are brainstorming or using lists as a way to invest in yourself, there shouldn't be any need to erase," Seal says. Her ideal pen has "deep black gel ink, a fine tip, and a heavy weight," and she's releasing a desktop line along with 52 Lists For Happiness that includes pens with a gold and rose gold finish to make list-making "a beautiful experience."
Don't Edit Yourself: Don't let structure get in the way of creativity or flow. "Allow thoughts to flow freely recognizing that whatever you write is meant to be there and has some sort of intuitive connect to your first intention to writing the list," Seal says.
Always Be List-Ready: You never know when inspiration will strike, so be prepared. "I keep a smaller notebook on me at all times for listing our just general brainstorms and ideas," Seal says.
Reflect: "Give yourself time to contemplate your list when you are done," Seal suggests. Reflecting on the ideas you collect allows you the opportunity to find trends, identify opportunities for growth or exploration, and learn about yourself.
A List-Making Starter Kit
Need a kick-start to your list-making habit? Seal's "The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration" or"52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy," make a great creative start. Claudia Altucher's "Become An Idea Machine" contains 180 prompts that challenge you to integrate list-making into your creative routine. "Listography Journal" offers an illustrated approach.