The Power of Lists

on June 5 | in Uncategorized | by | with No Comments

By Nancy Brown-Johnston

When I really need to get organized, I make lists. I create mental lists as well as physical lists. For some people, lists are a natural a way of staying organized and managing their everyday lives. In the language of the popular personality assessment tool, the Myers Briggs Type Indictator (MBTI), it is a life tool of the “J’s” – the Judgers. J’s are people with the preference for a well-planned, orderly, and organized life. They know the power of lists.

By preference, I am not a Judger, in MBTI lingo, I am a Perceiver or “P”, with a preference for flexibility, spontaneity, and living up to the last minute. I tend to let priorities sort themselves out, usually determined by when time literally runs out. My husband asks me if I like always being late, in a hurry, or running behind. That of course, is a typical J question to a typical P. On a typical day, I prefer not to be bound by lists and schedules, until pressure becomes too high. Then, I find the stress to be uncomfortable and to my rescue – a good list!

Like me, most P’s tend to be pressure-prompted. I like making a list in times of stress because once I create a list, my brain doesn’t have to remember or hold on to whatever it is I am trying to remember, and it decreases my stress. As long as I don’t ignore or lose the list, it reduces my anxiety, and I get back on track.

This weekend, when the pressure was high, the lists started to show up. I created silly lists as well as important lists. I wrote a top 10 list of How You Know When You Have Too Many Dogs to deal with my frustrations of living in a house with five dogs. Then, I wrote a top 10 list of How You Know When You Exercise Too Much to justify taking the weekend off from exercising. I also wrote three work related lists. To round off this list making marathon, I wrote this blog, including this list of my favorite kinds of lists and the reasons I make them!

My Favorite Lists

  1. Check lists for packing for trips
    So I won’t forget to take something and have to buy it or do without it
  2. Grocery store or shopping lists
    So I won’t have to go back or be harassed by my husband for forgetting things
  3. Errand lists
    To save time and gasoline or my favorite, so I can send someone else to do my errands
  4. “To-do” lists
    To set priorities, organize my day, not take on more tasks than I can manage
  5. Lists of things to talk to the doctor about
    So I don’t forget to discuss all the things I need to cover
  6. Gift lists
    Birthdays, Christmas, all the special events, not miss buying someone a gift
  7. “Thinking on paper” lists
    Lists of all types, I think in terms of lists of bullet points, it is how I organize my thoughts
  8. Emergency numbers lists
    In case they are lost or stolen (e.g., credit card and passport numbers)
  9. Bucket lists
    A running list of things I want to do, see, learn, or read
  10. Affirmation lists
    To read every day to feel good about myself

Are you a list maker?  What kinds of lists would increase your effectiveness and make your life easier? Go ahead, start a list!


Nancy Brown-Johnston has worked in the field of training and organization development in many companies around the world, including General Motors, Saturn Corporation, the US Army, and Delphi Automotive Systems. Nancy co-founded and served as the director of Saturn Consulting Services (SCS), where she led the development of the SCS courses. She also managed the marketing and consulting services to more than 200 external customers, including Chevrolet, Opel, Saab, Delphi Automotive Systems, the U.S. Army, U.S.P.S., and Zeneca Ag Products.

TripleWin’s Professional Development Program uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator in all 6 sessions to assist in the personal and professional growth of the participants. For more information, see

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