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5 reasons to use checklists for organizing your mind and space

By Julie Stobbe / January 19, 2021 /

I  believe that having routines helps you to accomplish things using less energy.  It automates chores and tasks that need to be done regularly to keep an office or home organized.  If one person has routines for the tasks the system works.  That person will get burnt out doing all the work.  Delegating the work is the key.  How do you delegate work that is in someone’s mind?


Checklists can be used for many reasons.

  • to make a process repeatable
  • to clarify a task for another person
  • to schedule tasks to be completed at regular intervals
  • to reduce what you need to remember


I have many tasks that I do infrequently or that I am learning.  I set up a checklist with all steps I need to do so I don’t forget one.  The checklist takes the stress out of completing the task.  I don’t need to figure out how to do it each time.  The checklist will become refined after each use when I realize I left out a step or I have found an easier way to do it.

Some examples are:

Collecting income tax records:

  • material needs to be gathered from a number of institutions,
  • forms need to be filed,
  • receipts need to be organized,
  • copies made,

Setting up meetings:

  • agendas prepared
  • reports requested to be compiled/ submitted ahead of time for the meeting
  • meeting notice was sent with the current date, time,  location and attachments
  • set-up meeting room in-person or virtual
  •  take meeting minutes
  • meeting minutes sent out to attendees
  • follow up on items to be completed by participants

Social media posting

  • list hyperlinks to social media sites so I don’t need to look them up each time
  • record steps on how to post to each site until it becomes easy
  • record the date when something was posted
  • record the topic that was posted so it is not posted twice

Photo by STIL on Unsplash


How many times have you asked someone to do something and you come back and you are shocked by what they did or didn’t do?   Checklists clarify what needs to be done in order to call the task completed. It allows you to delegate work.

Some examples are:

Clean your room – this means something different to each person

  • Take the sheets and pillowcases off the bed and put them in the laundry
  • Put on clean sheets and pillowcases
  • Pick up everything off the floor and put it away
  • Dust everything( list the items)
  • Vacuum the floor, closet and under the bed
  • Empty the garbage can into ……


  • place documents in designated box for filing
  • recycle advertising
  • shred unimportant documents with personal information on them
  • sort the pile alphabetically or by date or category
  • file placing new documents in the front, header to the left

Planning an event for your family or at work

  • set date, time and place
  • send out notice/invitation with date, time, directions, need to know information, RSVP
  • start to build a purchasing list
  • decide on food and drink- quantities, order or prepare on site
  • set up the room – seating, decorations,  pens, paper
  • clean the location
  • have a place for coats
  • plan activity- ice breakers, games,
  • purchase/shop for items for the event
  • set up a timetable for the event
  • reminder notice
  • post signs showing where to go, the name of the event Developing a checklist is a good way to think through all the steps in a task. Click To Tweet

Avoid mistakes, frustration and embarrassment 

Checklists are great for things you do from memory to confirm you have not missed anything.  Memory is fallible, especially the busier you get.  If you have a checklist you won’t forget to make sure you have enough handouts for your meeting, you have defrosted the meat for supper, you have your passport etc. Sometimes I have a mental checklist I run through before leaving the house, a written checklist is better

How to write a good checklist 

In his book, Gawande said a good checklist contains only five to nine items and fits on one page. You might not get your checklist right the first time, so practice using it in the real world, and then refine it as needed.

Checklists can improve performance, help you be more consistent, reduce anxiety and errors.  If something you are doing and is hard, complicated, never seems to go right or needs to be delegated try making a checklist for that task.  It is a good way to think through all the steps in a task. It only works if you use it before you begin your task.

Need help making a checklist book a 30-minute complimentary virtual organizing appointment.

Julie Stobbe, professional organizerJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices,  virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer.


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Top tips for a less stressful move

By Julie Stobbe / March 20, 2018 /

My guest blogger this week is Brooke Faulkner.  She is a mom and writer in the Pacific Northwest . When she’s not wrangling her own kids, she’s writing tips to help other families do the same. You can see more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek.  Brooke thanks for sharing your expertise.

As you probably have already experienced, packing and moving to a new location — whether across town or across the country — rank right up there as the the least desirable tasks to tackle in life.

Research has even shown that moving is MORE stressful than a divorce or starting a new job. In a poll of 2,000 adults who have moved in the past three years, almost two in three (61 percent) placed moving at the top of their stress list.Research has even shown that moving is MORE stressful than a divorce or starting a new job. In a poll of 2,000 adults who have moved in the past three years, almost two in three (61 percent) placed moving at the top of their stress list. Click To Tweet

Meanwhile, a crumbling relationship, divorce and a new job were ranked second, with less than half (42 percent) voting those life events as the most stressful.

Fortunately, there are many ways to lessen the burden of packing up your life and starting a new chapter. It can even be an opportunity to take charge and move like a boss.

And once you’re done with the big move, you can slowly unpack your belongings, breathe a sigh of relief, and enjoy your new space.

Here are a few things you can do to make the process easier along the way:

To-Do Lists Are Your Friend

There are so many things to keep track of as you work your way through the transition from the old place to the new house. Create a plan of attack by making a to-do list. It can be organized on a week-by-week basis to make it more manageable and less intimidating as the moving date approaches.

Prioritize all of the important tasks first along with the associated deadlines for each.

You don’t have to make a list of tasks out of thin air. There are many handy moving checklists available to use as a guideline. A good moving checklist includes around-the-house and preparatory tasks like scheduling connections of utilities at the new house, disconnecting utilities at the old place, filing a change of address form with the post office, arranging for cleaning services, reserving a moving truck, and collecting moving and storage boxes, to name a few.

An Opportunity to Downsize

Before you even start packing, you’ll want to get rid of any clutter or unwanted items. This will help you feel more organized from the outset because you’ll only be packing up the things you need or want to take with you.

In a previous Mind Over Clutter blog post, we recommended a book called “Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash” designed to help loved ones move, complete with practical steps and suggestions for downsizing without sacrificing treasured memories. For many people, giving up the family home is comparable to losing a loved one.

At the same time, it’s a pretty freeing feeling to downsize, donate items, and clear out the old to make way for the new. Otherwise it can be frustrating to pack stuff you’re going to get rid of anyway after the move. Give yourself plenty of time to do what needs to be done in order to have a successful move.

Prepare Your Mind

Get ready for the possibility of anxiety that comes with living among boxes and in chaos for a while. But don’t let the stress cause you to procrastinate the items on your moving checklist.

People in general have the tendency to procrastinate. Think of it like packing for a vacation. What happens when you delay packing until the very last minute before you leave? You inevitably forget something you might need or want on your trip.

It’s natural to avoid things you don’t want to do, but uprooting your life is a big deal and deserves your full attention. Even after you’ve done the work, there’s always still more to be done. But it will get done. You got this.

It may take a while to make the space your own. That’s to be expected. You don’t have to do it all in one week. Give yourself and family time to settle into the new environment.

Organize Your Belongings

You’ve likely moved before and found yourself frantically looking for something specific only to find you didn’t pack the item in a box with similar items. When you start shoving things within reach into boxes, you set yourself up for chaos.

It seems like a no-brainer, but mixing and matching kitchen supplies with bedroom supplies, for example, isn’t the most effective way to pack. Socks and spoons don’t go together. Organizing your belongings into categories is a relatively simple step.

Labeling each box with its contents with a sharpie is a good way to go. You’ll have more than one box of kitchen supplies, so when writing on top of the box, make sure to write what’s in the box. Simply writing “kitchen” on each box isn’t very helpful. Writing the specific contents under the kitchen category will not only make it easier for you, but the movers as well.

There are many ways to downgrade the stress levels you may experience during the moving process. You may even look back and think, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” Pat yourself on the back, enjoy the moment and, of course, your new home!

Share with us where you donate the items you don’t need any more. 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at

 Twitter   Facebook   Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space
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