Posts Tagged ‘organization’

a pile of to-do lists

Are you a list maker? It’s ok, I am too! There is something wonderfully satisfying about making a list. Even more fulfilling is checking, crossing, staring or otherwise denoting the completion of one of its tasks. I think post it notes are a perfect stocking stuffer (even though my kids don’t) and having a stash of them at home, work, and in my car is necessary for me to live a productive life. That’s normal, isn’t it? Well, even if you do not have Glazomania (the unrecognized term for the love of making lists), research shows that I am not alone in my obsession, and perhaps making lists is actually one of my healthier habits. Read on as I list the reasons why….

NPR suggests (or lists) 10 reasons why people like lists: 

1. Lists bring order to chaos. My husband dreads my lists, but agrees that they keep us on track.

2. Lists help us remember things, like when we need to buy more milk at the store.

3. Most lists are finite.

4. Lists can be meaningful – think of a bucket list.

5. Lists can be as long or as short as necessary. New Year’s resolutions could be considered a list!

6. Making lists could help make you famous! Famous list makers include Thomas Jefferson, Martha Stewart, and Benjamin Franklin.

7. The word “list” can be tracked back to William Shakespeare.

8. Lists relieve stress and focus the mind.

9. Lists can force people to say revealing things – think best and worst dresses lists.

10. Lists can keep us from procrastinating.

According to Psychologist Dr. David Cohen, “we love to-do lists for three reasons: they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month.” I will add sometimes they are just fun; think David Letterman’s Top 10 lists. Psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke state, “the more we know about something—including precisely how much time it will consume—the greater the chance we will commit to it.”

However, E.J. Masicampo, an associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University warns us about dangers associated with list making. He says they can become “mental graveyards”, meaning ideas go there to die. If we don’t accomplish the contents of out lists, they may become a source of anxiety, or worse, begin a cycle of unrealized ideas which can stunt our ambition.

For most of us, the physical reminder of a list can help manage the anxiety of a hectic week and bring order to our lives. In her book To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us author Sasha Cagen shares a compilation of her lists and discusses how she became known as a to-do list-ologist. I am going to stick with my post it notes, but for those who want to take their list making to the next level, there are apps for that. Check out these online favorites: Todoist, Evernote, and Monday.com. Feel free to list them in the order you like!

Written by Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Butler County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County


Cagen, S. (2007). To-do list: From buying milk to finding a soul mate, what our lists reveal about us. https://www.sashacagen.com/to-do-list-book/

Guardian News and Media. (2017, May 10). The psychology of the to-do list – why your brain loves ordered tasks. The Guardian. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/10/the-psychology-of-the-to-do-list-why-your-brain-loves-ordered-tasks

Kent, L. (2020, July 14). The psychology behind to-do lists and how they can make you feel less anxious. CNN. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/14/health/to-do-lists-psychology-coronavirus-wellness/index.html

Konnikova, M. (2013, December 2). A list of reasons why our brains love lists. The New Yorker. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/a-list-of-reasons-why-our-brains-love-lists

Weeks, L. (2009, February 24). 10 reasons why we love making lists. NPR. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2009/02/24/101056819/10-reasons-why-we-love-making-lists

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Sleep or Exercise? Both activities are critical for maintaining good health. But let’s be real; it’s much more fun to do an extra hour in bed instead of on the treadmill. Have you ever made the decision to wake up early in the morning to workout, only to find yourself feeling like an extra hour of sleep would be more beneficial to your body than forcing yourself to exercise?sleep

But how can you tell if the desire for sleep is biologically dictated and not just procrastination? Is exercise even beneficial after a short sleep cycle? There is no quick, one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but looking at sleep/exercise research may help you make an informed decision when faced with those groggy “Should I really get up to work out?” thoughts in your head:

  • Adequate sleep and exercise are both critical for optimum health
  • Sleep and exercise promote one another – physical activity promotes high-quality sleep, and high-quality sleep promotes physical performance
  • Adults need a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, but if you are averaging around this amount, it’s okay to skip a half hour of sleep a couple of times per week to get in a morning workout
  • The CDC and American Heart Association recommend a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.
  • Some experts, when absolutely pressed to choose one that would be considered more important, choose sleep. But (and this is a big but), it simply is not advisable to recommend opting out of exercise completely, and exercise should be considered a “must” for a healthy lifestyle.

**These facts are based on average adults. Those with sleep disorders or other health conditions that affect their ability to sleep or exercise should consult a health care professional when making decisions related to these activities.

For those who cannot find time for adequate sleep and exercise, try to evaluate and organize your schedule to:

  • Go to sleep a little earlier so you don’t feel like you have to sacrifice sleep time.
  • Schedule time in the evening to allow for exercise so you can sleep longer in the morning.

Once you make a conscious effort to live in a way that allows you to practice habits that are healthy – and that includes both adequate sleep and adequate exercise – you will feel much more balanced. We can’t take best care of others and our responsibilities until we take best care of ourselves.

Written by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County








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Clutter means different things to different people, but can generally be categorized into the following groups:

• Unused things or things with no sentimental value

• Unfinished things

• Disorganized things

• Too many things in too small a place

Clutter says something about you! Maybe you are holding on to the past, unable to make up your mind, or just seriously messy! Whatever the case, clutter holds you back. office_clutter

The main clutter styles are listed below. Recognizing your clutter behavior is the first step towards changing the habits that create it.

• The Accumulator – Aka, the classic pack rat, acquires more and more things and lets nothing go, thinking that items may be valuable someday or indecisive about what to do with them.

• The Collector – Seems to collect specific items (like commemorative plates), but collections are rarely complete, and lead to starting other collections.

• The Concealer – Neatly labels and packs away clutter in storage containers. While organized, the Concealer keeps everything instead of making decisions about what to keep and what to discard.

• The Tosser – Has no clutter problem. But, throws away not only their own things, but everyone else’s too. The Tosser has little sentimental attachment to things and has difficulty understanding others’ attachments to things.

Clutter adds about 40% more housework in the average American home, and can challenge even the most organized person. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do with something, have no place to put it, or don’t have time to deal with it.

Key Principles for Creating Order – If you want to clear out clutter, focus your mind on creating order. Getting organized means changing habits. You make organization happen by taking control. ACT to reduce clutter:

• Assess the situation

• Commit to a plan

• Take action

Get rid of things you don’t use and that have no personal value. Start small and set realistic goals. For example, begin with the kitchen catchall drawer. Attack clutter drawer by drawer, cupboard by cupboard, shelf by shelf.

The QUICK method, detailed in Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff, edited by Lori Baird, is a compilation of techniques and advice that many expert organizers use to create order.

Quantify  – Think about your clutter and the space you have to store it. What are your needs? Why are they important? Maybe you love books, but your bookshelves are a mess. Write down how you want to organize them (author, subject, fiction, nonfiction, etc.). Set aside time like a regularly scheduled appointment. By assessing and sorting your books, you have begun to quantify your clutter.

Unload – Getting rid of clutter means letting it go. Things can be given away, donated to charity, sold at a garage sale, or thrown away. One way or another, items must leave the premises.

Isolate – After unloading, isolate the items that are left. These are the things you have decided to keep, so organize them in a way that makes sense to you. For example, you’ve gone through the Christmas decorations, thrown out the threadbare garlands, and separated the tangled lights. Now, sort the items. Fragile ornaments in one group, wreaths in another, wrapping paper and bows in another. You get the idea.

Contain – Decide what storage containers to use for your things and where to put them (bookshelf, closet, garage, etc.). Don’t buy new containers if you don’t need them. Just make sure that containers are adequate for the content. Now you can see the results of your efforts: Items neatly labeled and stored in a practical location.

Keep it up – Maintaining organization is an ongoing process. No worries. The hard part is over! Just quantify, unload, isolate, and contain as needed. With a system for creating order already in place, eliminating clutter is easy.

With a little determination, you can conquer clutter.

Written by: Kathryn K Dodrill, MA, CFCS Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Washington County.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County.


  • Dean, Shea“Clutter & Chaos, How I got out From Under This Mess.” Reader’s Digest, May 2002:      90-97.
  • Garson, Christine “Closet Cases.” Real Simple, Oct. 2003: 158-167.
  • Baird, Lori, ed.Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff: The QUICK Way to Bring Lasting Order to Household Chaos. USA: Yankee Publishing, Inc., 2002.
  • Bykofsky , Sheree500 Terrific Ideas for Organizing Everything: The Best Techniques and Tools for Organizing Anything and Everything in your Life. New York: Round Stone Press, Inc., 1992.
  • Lambert, MaryClearing the Clutter for Good Feng Shui. New York: Barnes & Noble Inc., 2001.
  • Smallin, Donna Organizing Plain & Simple: A Ready Reference Guide With Hundreds of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2002.
  • www.realsimple.com

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