List-Making: The Sexy Trait That Leads To Success

Being organized is a sexy trait. Personally, I love having my life in order – it makes me feel confident, empowered and ready for anything. I truly enjoy accomplishing goals, getting chores done and, especially, crossing tasks off my list, the latter being the most important part of staying on top of my responsibilities.

I make multiple lists per day on colorful Post-It notes in a planner. One may be for daily errands I need to run or phone calls I need to make, while the second outlines my grad school reading and homework assignments, and the third most likely lists what I need to do the next day. I also use a list every day at my job and am often able to accomplish a large amount of work (which has gotten me positive feedback).

I’m sure when people in my office or at Starbucks see me with my Post-It note-covered planner and my definitive Sharpie marker to cross it all off, they think I’m nuts. But I like to think I’m setting myself up for success.

Back in January, I followed a Twitter chat hosted by New York Women In Communications, Inc. (@NYWICI) with Paula Rizzo, author of the new book “Listful Thinking” and founder of the website List Producer. I then realized I was not the only one obsessed with making lists. It was as if I’d found my list-making fairy godmother. So, I contacted her for more advice on making lists and being organized, and how it adds to a successful career.

“It’s not like only list-making makes someone successful, but I think it definitely contributes,” said Rizzo in a phone interview. On Rizzo’s website, she discusses how there are many successful people – CEOs, musicians, inventors – who were and are list makers. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all these people who are super successful in their careers are also list people.”

And Rizzo is a prime example herself. Besides her website and book, she is also an Emmy Award-winning senior health producer for She has a lot on her plate, but she manages it all through lists. As someone who wants to be successful in her career, I had to ask how she got to be where she is now, how she handles it all and if making lists really contributed to all of this success.

“I like to use a list as a road map for my day,” said Rizzo. “I find for me that I am on top of my game when using lists and that’s how I get all of this stuff done.”

When Rizzo first went for her current job, she found that making lists helped her land the job, too. “I was able to stick out in a group of very successful and very smart people because I was able to get so much done,” she said.

And Rizzo said that others can use lists to stand out, too. “If you put two people together with similar skill sets and one is a list maker, I would say that that person would be the one who could get more work done and be able to get farther in that career because making lists just sets you up for success in a way that other people don’t know how.”

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh no, I’m not a list maker, I might not get the job,” don’t panic. Rizzo said that anyone can make lists and that after implementing them into your routine, you’ll see a quick and successful difference.

“I think the significance can be immediate because the second you start to write things down and clear your head, you just get calmer,” said Rizzo. And I can vouch for that – when I write everything down on paper or Post-It notes and get it out of my head, I automatically feel as though I can manage more throughout my day and week. I find that I often tackle extra work that I wasn’t planning to do, all because I’ve found free time that I need to fill.

When it comes down to it, making lists helps you personally and professionally. I think being organized in your personal life allows you to feel confident, empowered and even sexy. And I think being organized in your job will impress your boss, and Rizzo agrees.

“It proves that maybe you can handle more work and it’s good to do things that can help you stand out a little bit more,” she said. “[List-making] is a tool for success, there’s no other way to put it.”

For more information on Rizzo’s book “Listful Thinking” and for more advice on how to become a list maker, visit her website and follow her @ListProducer.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz