When you’ve got a lot going on…you’ve got a lot going on. And sometimes a necessary evil that comes with a creative’s goal-getting lifestyle? Feeling completely, totally frazzled. But does that mean you can’t beat overwhelm in the butt?
Of course not.
So when you just “can’t” in life, here’s my suggestion: stop for a minute and…make a list!
Here I give you 30 kinds of lists that help you beat overwhelm and stay productive along the way.
1. Daily to-do list
I previously wrote about how to stay productive with our goals no matter what, but you actually need to know what it is you need to get done in the first place.
As someone who starts side hustle after side hustle, chases goal after goal, there are moments when I feel ready to throw in the towel at just the thought of things I have to do.
But I’ve made it my mission to help fellow creatives and solopreneurs live the best possible lives they can live.
It’s a lot of work, so you can imagine my to-do list!
We always have a ton of stuff to do every day, that’s a given. I mean, who else do you know are go-getting souls like us who try to balance day jobs and creative side hustles?
But when you sit down and make a list of all the big, bad things you need to accomplish, you find that the workload seems more bearable.
After all, once you make that to-do list, you can decide on which tasks to tackle first.
2. Deadlines for school/work this week
A list of to-dos isn’t always a list of deadlines. So you’re crystal clear on anything you might miss, layer up a to-do list by listing down when those things might be due. Then you’ll never have to worry about cramming!
3. Grocery/shopping list
Because, hey, we might be creative unicorns, but we aren’t starving artists. Am I right?
4. Expenses list (money you owe too!)
Whether it’s your expenses around the house, for school, or all those things you did for fun, making a list of expenses at least helps you beat the overwhelm that comes with wondering: where the heck is my money going?
And don’t forget to note any money you might owe, you know, your mom or something.
5. Events you’re attending this month
Events can mean anything! From a theater play you’ve been dying to see, to a networking event you want to try attending, and maybe even your cousin’s daughter’s kindergarten graduation.
Pro-tip: do this with a calendar format so that you can see everything at just a glance!
6. Books you want to read
I really believe in the power of reading, especially as creatives and as entrepreneurs. So make a list of books you want to read to further your learning or just give you a new perspective on things.
If you need a few recommendations, my personal favorites that really lit a fire under my business-minded butt have been:
- GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
- Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
7. Podcasts to listen to
Man, I love a good podcast. It makes me feel more productive during my commutes or walks since I can learn something new while doing something so…boring. While there are a ton of podcasts out there that are too amazing for words, again here are some of my personal favorites:
- Happier by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (and other great, eye-opening books I equally love, like Better Than Before and The Four Tendencies)
- Being Fearless by Annie Spano, founder of the online support community for fashion and lifestyle bloggers, Style Collective
8. Your weekly/monthly/yearly goals
You’re not called a goal-getter for nothing. Write down those goals, you dream-chaser – then make them happen.
Related: How to Focus on Just One Goal at a Time (even when you’re multipassionate)
9. People you need to grab a coffee with
These can be friends from high school or college you haven’t seen in a while because you’re both living your busy lives.
But think that these can even be your tribe, or the people like you who share your interests and want to help you grow. Who knows, you might find a new accountability partner or collab buddy!
10. Things you want to save up for
That dream car, that dream house… Okay, if that sounds a little much right now, maybe that cute planner you’ve been eyeing, or even that cute new lipstick. Or maybe even a post-grad degree?
11. Places you want to visit
Every creative entrepreneur has had a few dream places to visit. Whether it’s to set up an office there (man, what a dream), or even just vacation spots, go make a list of places you want to see!
And, hey, it doesn’t always have to be some faraway land halfway across the world. You can even write down spots to visit in the city right next to you!
12. Things you’re grateful for this past week
You’ve probably heard about all the good things that happen when you start a gratitude journal. After all, reflecting on things you’re grateful for are a good reminder, and give us all those warm and happy feelings. Even if it was a particularly bad week, just think real hard about anything that might have made it better.
13. Things you’re worried about right now
Okay, while this might seem counterintuitive than the example above, there’s a perfectly good explanation.
When you make a list of things you’re worried about, it’s like you’re giving yourself a little power of those things by having them physically written down in front of you. And sometimes having these worrisome fears in front of us can make us feel like we can handle them after all, or that there are actually things we can do about them.
Pretty cool, right?
14. Reasons you value yourself
I haven’t met many creatives who have never felt that bite of self-doubt get to them. So in moments when the doubt is particularly compelling, whip out a handy notebook and list down why you value yourself.
Why is your business worth it? What makes your art amazing? Why is your blog worth reading? Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
15. Ways to earn money on the side
Man, I kid you not when I say I think about side hustles day in and day out. I did once write about this massive mix-and-match list of over 350+ combinations of passion projects you can turn into a side hustle, so you can feel free to check that out for inspiration.
Want to know how to earn money as a blogger from the very beginning? You might want to read my How to Make Money Blogging series here.
Plus, read about how I earned my first six figures as a college senior just from side hustles alone – hope that lights a fire under your butt!
16. Friends celebrating their birthdays this month
Because it’s not enough that you’re already a creative solopreneur (or aspiring to be one!). You’re also a great friend.
17. People who inspire you
Be honest: who are the people you look up to? Who are living the life you want to live? Doing the hustle you wanna do? Write them all down. Or be creative about it and make a collage of their photos for your vision board!
18. Things that make you happy
I like having this list as a handy guide for some days feel particularly bad. Sometimes just reading the list helps lift my spirits. Or if that’s not enough, I pull out the big guns and actually do or get something off the list.
A couple examples I actually have on my Things That Make Me Happy list? “Google photos of puppies.” And, man, does the internet provide.
19. A #TreatYourself list
Sometimes keeping productive is ridiculously hard. Or sometimes these big goals we set for ourselves seem impossible to meet. As a way to motivate yourself, why don’t you make a list of treats for yourself for when you actually accomplish things?
Maybe you can buy that new lipstick people are raving about. Or get that new book by your favorite author. Or treat yourself to a fancy dinner – by yourself.
20. A bucket list
I don’t know about you, but the movie The Bucket List really made me want to start…well, a bucket list. And this list can be really fun on some level, but it’s also a great way to list down any crazy dreams you’ve got.
But I’ve found that having the items of my bucket list right in front of me, I’m often reminded of the cool things I want to do.
So somehow, I get to cross off all the things on that bucket list. And I’m pretty sure one way to beat overwhelm is to look back at all the cool stuff you’ve done with your life!
Related: Ready or Not, Just Do The Thing
21. Coffee shops in your city you should visit
Call me a café-holic, but I can’t help it. I’ve written article after article of great cafés to visit around my city, so why don’t you do the same? I mean, if you’re a solopreneur, chances are you won’t always want to work from home. And what’s our next best bet? A coffee shop, of course!
Just do a quick Google on cool coffee shops around your city. You might find all these cool ones for hanging out, like those with a comfy ambiance, good WiFi, and – of course – amazing coffee.
22. Hobbies/crafts you want to try
I always believe in the power of doing creative work, and sometimes that means doing creative work outside the ones that pay the bills.
So you might be a freelance writer or have a graphic design agency. But you might want to do watercolor on the side, or fill in some adult coloring books. Or you want to learn crochet or scrapbooking.
Who knows? You might find a way to integrate these new hobbies and crafts into your creative business.
Related: You’re a Creative. No, Really.
23. Classes/workshops/certifications you want to take
With the internet on our side, there’s no shortage of classes and workshops and even awesome certification courses you can take to up your creative business.
24. Food you want to eat less of
We all want to take care of our creative businesses, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself first. And one way to live better – especially when you’re looking to beat overwhelm – is taking care of our physical health. But no need to go all out right away if you’re new to self-care.
Start by eating healthier, and to do this sometimes starts as easily as writing down foods you don’t want to be eating.
25. Morning/evening routines you want to establish
Jumping off from the previous example, why don’t you try listing down a routine you might want to try? You know what I mean: like routines in the morning from working out to morning coffee. Maybe even an evening routine once all the work for the day is done?
26. Skin care products you want to try
Because skin care is also self-care.
27. People you want to connect with
You’ve probably heard the advice of connecting with other creatives and entrepreneurs being thrown around, and I won’t contest that. So start looking around in Facebook groups, LinkedIn – even other blogs you follow yourself.
28. Posts you want to make on social media
Because what’s a business without marketing and sales?
29. New Year’s Resolutions you want to follow
Hey, you might have a bunch of resolutions in your personal and creative life, so what’s stopping you from making resolutions you actually want to stick to?
Pro-tip: January isn’t the only time you can make these resolutions. Make tomorrow the new January!
30. Things you can do in 15 minutes or less
One of my favorite ways of staying productive is doing things that take absolutely no time at all – so that I don’t need to worry about them in the future.
I’ve already made my own list of super productive things you can do in 10 minutes or less for around the house and your solopreneur business, so feel free to take inspiration from my list and make your own!
I’ve got a pretty printable of a blank list template for you to print out and make these lists on if you like! You can make a few copies if you want to make more than one (I know I do!).