"For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned." - Anonymous

In the disorder of our thoughts and desires that pass throughout the day, we oftentimes neglect to consider the importance of certain aspects of our lives--past, present, and future. I've found lists to be immensely helpful in developing a better appreciation for what is and what was, but also a better vision for what could be and how to get there.

Every day, I write to-do lists to organize my work, but in recent years I've taken to lists that guide me to better enjoyment and planning for the future. I would get caught up in circular thoughts about reaching certain goals and lose sight of the concrete steps to lead me there - lists were part of the answer, it turns out. Lists serve a multitude of purposes - these, in particular, will help clarify who you are, what you want, and allow you to grow and take care of yourself.

Take the time to write down the lists you think will help you most and update them as you go along through life. Even if you never spare a glance at your lists again, they're capable of providing some unique insight.

1. What you're most grateful for

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We tend to focus most on what's wrong with our circumstances rather than all the wonderful parts that comprise our everyday life. These should be reminders of what has gone well for you, and can provide hope or warm your heart during the tougher times.

2. Must-reads

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There are so many, many books that I come across that demand to be read--unfortunately, if I don't write them down in one place, I tend to not get to them in the long-run. It's inevitable that there are more good books than we'll ever be able to read, but it's worth a shot!

3. What you're looking forward to

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Oftentimes we dwell too much on that hard exam coming up or having to figure out rent that our excitement for the good stuff is dampened. Thinking more about plans with friends or going on that weekend trip can be helpful. It doesn't have to be in the immediate future, however - think about all the wonderful things that lie way ahead of you as well!

4. Simple pleasures

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Super soft blankets. Cups of hot coffee. Sun on my face. It's awfully cliche to appreciate the simpler pleasures - but who says cliche is necessarily awful? Simple pleasures tend to be the most abundant and readily accessible pleasures that comprise our lives, and are arguably more important than other pleasures.

5. Go-to stress-relievers

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In times of immense stress it's hard to think about a course of action, but having a pre-made list for things to de-stress can make it so much easier to cope. Oftentimes it helps to listen to music, call a friend, practice yoga, etc. - whatever has worked for you in the past.

6. Daily to-dos

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The best to-do lists tend to focus on tasks sorted by priority and urgency - and not have too many points on the list. It takes some experimentation to find what works best for the individual, but can be extremely helpful once you do.

7. Smaller goals

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Setting smaller goals for time periods as brief as a day, week, or month can be highly rewarding, whether that means writing a page a day in a journal, learning how to cook different recipes, or trying out a new workout routine.

8. Life milestones

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Think both about turning points of the past and those you want to work towards in the future. For example, it can be motivating to remember your high school graduation, but also push you towards meeting potential higher education goals. You could want a certain career or to have a family in the future - those count as future milestones as well.

9. What matters most

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In the midst of concrete pursuits, such as getting a college degree or a job, we can lose sight of what truly matters in our lives. That could mean relationships with our friends and family, or overall life satisfaction and enjoyment. Ask yourself what matters most to you.

10. Treat. Yo. Self.

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Let yourself have the better things in life from time to time - life is too short not to allow yourself some awesome treats! Go get a massage or take a trip with a couple friends, whatever floats your boat.

11. New foods to try

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Personally I tend to eat the same foods all the time, so I don't branch out and try all the interesting foods out there as much as I should. I'd want to be able to try all that I can for the fun of it, however.

12. What you're most proud of

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Thinking back to our proudest accomplishments can help motivate us to pursue future accomplishments - and convince us that we're capable of achieving them. Besides, it's easy to always be thinking towards the next step instead of acknowledging all that you've done in the past.

13. Self-improvement goals

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Setting self-improvement goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T) is easier with list organized to better coordinate your thought processes. Simply saying you want to work out more often isn't as helpful as defining that you will eventually want to go for an hour-run each Saturday morning and listing out the steps to take you there.

14. Most valuable learning experiences

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Certain moments in our lives tend to be instructive in retrospect, particularly painful moments, the appreciation of which is an important aspect of the healing process. These tend to be the most valuable in terms of their place in our personal development. Though I do acknowledge more explicit learning experiences, such as stand-out college courses or teachers, the experiences I learned most from were more spontaneous and messy.

15. What you love about yourself

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Cultivating a sense of self-love is of the utmost importance in terms of your own well-being, friendships, relationships, and excelling in life. Sometimes it can be difficult to find positive aspects of yourself in the midst of a failure, disappointment, or crisis, but reminding yourself of the wonderful person you are can set you in the right direction.

16. What you love about others

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Reflection on what we value in others provides important insight into what we value in ourselves and who we want to become.

17. Places to visit

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You don't only have to include the most flashy of destinations, but even some local hot spots, coffee shops, book shops, or restaurants you haven't made the time to check out so far. Exploring both near and far are wonderful, enriching experiences.

18. Morning and night routines

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Getting the morning started right can set your entire day on a positive note - putting in place a routine makes for less stressful mornings in the long run. And having a good night routine can help you fall asleep better and well-prepared for the following day.

19. Fun things to try

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This is where the traditional bucket lists filled with hot air balloon rides and skydiving - or whatever fun things you've been meaning to try simply for the heck of it.

20. What you want to learn more about

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Oftentimes I'll come across interesting topics like Greek mythology or bioluminescence and have the desire to learn more about them at a later time - putting all of them onto a list can ensure you revisit them in the future.