List Makers Anonymous

I’m an unofficial member of List Makers Anonymous. I’ve always been a list maker and note taker. You want me to outline a term paper? Yes, please!

So, it’s no wonder in those early days of sleepless parenting, when I wondered if I was going to survive with my brain intact, that I got really, scarily good at list making.

I had a “going to spend the day at my sister’s” list, an “out to the park” list, a “what’s for supper this week” list. My brothers-in-law made fun of me for the extensive camping list I’d made. But they weren’t the ones responsible for making sure all the essentials for two babies made it to the campground.

But it had nothing to do with trying to be a super mom. I was certain I’d lost the capacity for abstract thought and that if I didn’t document my thoughts, at the moment I had them, they’d be gone forever.


My list making skills gave me back an ounce or two of sanity when I needed it the most. If you know what I mean just nod your head.

Tracking Constantly Moving Parts

Being able to keep track of so many moving parts is one reason I’m able to juggle so many projects at a time for my clients without missing deadlines or dropping the ball.

I have a wonderful OmniOutliner file called “Christie’sBigA**ToDoList” where I keep a running list of home, marketing and client projects. (Now that I’ve typed that file name, I realize it’s not so great, but it is what it is.) For those of you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done, my organization is based loosely on those principles.

While I’m not so much afraid of loosing my thoughts anymore, I needed a place to dump all my thoughts so they don’t keep circling around in my head all day long.

Keeping Track of Client Work

For my client work I have created sections for each client. But, most of my list making happens in the Work section. Here I have three categories: Current, Waiting, Done. As you can see above.

Current = client & marketing projects that I’m working on this week

Waiting = client projects that are on hold, pending feedback

Done = hallelujah, projects that are done

These three lists help me cycle through my project quickly and keep things moving. When I’ve sent an initial design off to one of my clients for review, that project moves down to waiting. When I hear back it goes back into the Current queue.

I also use OmniOutliner to create checklists for different types of projects. For instance, I created a checklist for the quarterly magazine I design. The checklist helps me keep track of specific request from my client (like their preference to use percentage symbols) that I want to remember each time I design the magazine.

Do What Works

OmniOutliner works for me now because I do most of my work at home in my office. I don’t travel much and until a few days ago didn’t even have a smart phone. I also use BusyCal, which syncs with my Google Calendar to schedule my work (but that’s a post for another day).

I’m comfortable doing what works until it doesn’t work anymore. So, we’ll see what changes come (and what apps get purchased) as I integrate the iPhone into my list making life.

What about you? Are you a list maker or do you keep it all in your head? If you’re a list maker what iPhone apps do you love?


  1. Jenn Morgan on at

    Nice. I love when you said “If you know what I mean just nod your head.”

    Yes, I’m a list maker… Only problem is my lists are WAY TOO LONG for one day!

    I’ve never heard of Omni Outliner – I have Omni Focus and I like that quite a bit.

    • christie on at

      Hi Jenn – I hear you on the way, too long lists. Mine are epic.

      I tried Omni Focus but I ended up spending to much time organizing my lists. Somehow Outliner fits better with the way I work. For now at least!