The Ultimate List of Lists When You’re Overwhelmed

There’s something calming about lists, isn’t there?


After a stressful day, it’s nice to be able to layout a list to get those thoughts out of your brain onto someplace safe.

I love that making lists can help with your anxiety. It’s like you’re journaling with prompts. 

Maybe you’ve felt the stress of disorganization. When you’re trying to remember what you had to do this week and just can’t remember all the little details.



Was soccer starting this week or next week?
What day were we supposed to bring in the school supplies?
There was a meal I wanted to try, but I can’t find it!

I had a similar feeling this morning. I couldn’t remember the days next week when I needed to bring my children to meet their teachers. 

I was feeling scattered and frustrated. 

Was it a message from my friend? Or had she posted in a local group about it?? I was scrolling my phone and quickly getting frustrated. 



Man, I was wishing I put together a list.
So I put together all the information I had, and called my friend and asked her what she had found. 

Now my calendar is complete, and my brain is less stressed about the potential of forgetting something. 



When Do You Make Lists?

What time is the best time to make these lists?

  • Your brain is so full you can’t remember anything, and you’re losing track of things. ie you forget to sign a sheet for your child to bring back to school, or you forget to pay your credit card bill this month, or you forgot where you even put your credit card because you were late night shopping online and didn’t put it away.
  • You’re getting overwhelmed easily. This can mean you’re overstretched and need a break. Here’s a guide to self-care, which is incredibly important.
  • You’re ready to make a change in your life, and you want to make a game plan. 
I love that you can use lists to manage your anxiety. 

It’s like my back pocket tool when I’m at the very end of my rope and I’m ready to throw in the towel. 

Are you ready to create your list now?
Great! Let’s get to it!


Lists to Create When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Oh yes, we have arrived. Pick any of these prompts, or create your own list of lists that will help you feel calmer. 

  1. The Brain Dump – What the heck is a brain dump?

    Oh, I’m so happy to tell you. It’s the list of all lists. The list other lists wish they could be. The list I want to be when I grow up.

    When you don’t know what to list, this is the one you’re going to start with.

    You’re going to literally write every single thing that pops in your brain.

    Don’t filter or organize it, you can do that later. The purpose here is to get it all out.

    Once you get it all out, it’s not chaos in your brain anymore, and you can begin to organize.

    First step: Write it all down. Set a timer for ten minutes and write everything that comes up in your brain down on paper. No thought is too silly or too big.

    Second step: Look over your list and prioritize what needs to get done in the next 24 hours. 
    Third step: Add steps to anything too big.

    For example, I was eager to prepare for school this week, but I had to find all of the information about the back to school activities.

    My brain dump just said “prepare for school”, so I broke that down into easier and more direct steps.

    -check the school website for dates
    -put together everyone’s backpacks downstairs in the command center
    -check back to school lists to make sure we bought everything.

    You may want to take your brain dump list and organize it into categories after you’re done.

  2.  Done List – Please note this isn’t a to-do list.

    There is something powerful about seeing all of your achievements for the day in one spot.

    You’ll be able to see what you’ve started, and perhaps be able to recognize what extra steps you may need to take today.

    For example, if your list says you cleaned the bathrooms, perhaps you’ll need to replace the towels, restock the toilet paper, or clean the bath toys that are probably starting to get slimy.

  3. Favorite Things To Do – You’ll enjoy making this list.

    Put together everything you enjoy, even if it’s little, like hugging your children, taking your dog for a walk, or putting the pillows back on the right couches.

    We all need a list like this, try to make it as many things as you can. Shoot for 20 or more items on this list.

    When you’re done . . . make the commitment to yourself to do at least three of those things every day.

    You deserve to do things you love.

  4. Gratitude List. I feel like this goes without much explanation.

    This is a great one for a rough day. You want to think about the positivity in your life as often as you can.

  5. Inspiration List. This one might not be a traditional list, but a Pinterest board.

    You may even find success with several different types of inspiration lists.

    Maybe you need one for meal planning, and one for writing or your work life, and one for inspiring you to not scream at your children when they spill ANOTHER cup of juice.

  6. Books You Want to Read. I love wish lists.

    I personally use Amazon to create lists of books I’m interested in reading. I like their lists of best sellers. You can get down super specific with their book lists.

    Like Best Selling Cooking With Kids Books.

    They have everything you could want, I love Amazon.

  7. Habits You Want to Cultivate. I’ve gotta say, I love creating lists that help me sculpt myself into the person I want to be.

    This is the list I used when I decided I was done chewing my nails.

    You’ll use this one as an idea list, and then you will take an entry out and break it down as far as you can to find success.

    I talk about my journey with chewing my nails (and how I finally quit!) in this post. I’d love if you read it and told me what you think.

  8. Song List.  I’m a lady who loves adding soundtracks to my life.

    One of the reasons I love falling in love with new songs is because later in my life, I will hear these songs and be reminded of this time in my life.

    For example, when I hear Shake it Off by Taylor Swift, I think of my children and how they would dance.

    When I hear The Greatest Showman Soundtrack, I can still see my son dancing in the car.

    Music can bring back the best memories we have. So go ahead, fall in love with a new song.

  9. Movies You Want to Watch. I’m going to start this out by saying I’m awful about watching movies.

    The first three years of my marriage was my husband being offended about me not seeing all these classic movies from his life.

    IMDB has a great list of movies you might want to see here.

    This is another list you could make traditionally on paper, but you also may benefit from another medium. I put mine on Trello, a board system.

    ListsforOverwhelm

  10. Skills You Want to Learn – I love this because who doesn’t want to improve themselves?

    Use this list to hash out some of your biggest dreams, and then cull them down to steps you can achieve easily.

    Maybe you want to learn how to play the piano.

    You could find a local teacher who has a piano you could use to try out your new skill.

    The sky is the limit with this list.

  11. Goals List – I think the same is true for this list.

    You might have a few repeats from the skills list, and that’s alright.

    These can be as big or little as you want. Remember, this is your list. This is to make YOU feel better.

    A few goals I’ve created recently:

    – Color Coordinating My Life – Each child has a different color on the calendar, planners, etc.

    – Do a Real Push Up – It might seem silly, and I’m alright with that. If I can’t do a proper push-up, then I won’t benefit from doing them incorrectly. So I start with wall push-ups, move to a push up against a couch, then on my knees, and finally a plank push up. Whew.

  12. The Perfect Day. The most calming of all the lists on this list.

    What a mouthful.

    Take yourself through your perfect day, and don’t leave anything out. This can change over the years. Maybe this year you just want a few minutes to yourself. In several years, you’ll probably want to be surrounded by family.

    The magic here is you can redo this list whenever you want.

  13. Things You’re Proud of. We all have things we can add here.

    Maybe you finally did that real push-up.
    Maybe you learned how to hard-boil an egg without getting that green ring.
    Maybe you took out your Instant Pot and used it for the first time.

    GOOD JOB. I am proud of you too! 

What Do You Do With These Lists?
It’s important to remember here, these are your lists.

Create whatever you want, and don’t create what you aren’t interested in.

The same goes here.
Do what you want with them.

These are some suggestions. 

  1.  Leave them on your table or in your journal.

    Forget about them.
    Throw them in the trash.

    Some lists simply need to get out of your head to be effective. Once they’re out, you don’t need to do anything else.

  2. Organize them.

    Put them on post-it notes to organize into your calendar to achieve goals, or rewrite them completely to be in an order you like better.
  3. Pull Them Out the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or helpless.

    – Do three things that make you happy.
    – Start a book you wanted to read
    – Listen to your favorite song
    – Flesh out the baby steps to achieve your goals.

  4. Do Some Research.

    Look up the habits you want to create, and create a game plan. 



What is your favorite list? Leave me a comment below.

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9 thoughts on “The Ultimate List of Lists When You’re Overwhelmed”

  1. My favorite list is my do NEXT list. After I write my to do list I seriously write what 4 things I will do next and then make a new list after I complete the first 4. It keeps me on track. πŸ™‚ Great post! I love lists.

    1. You’re welcome! I also am in love with making lists! It has made my life so much easier and happier in a lot of ways! Haha

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