- Decide you're going to make a list.
- Determine the purpose of your list. Do you wish to entertain? To educate? To rank like objects? To have your husband return home with the correct groceries?
- Jot down all the things you might want to put on the list. Don't worry if you can't think of them all at once, or if you come up with too many options;
you have an assistant for thatyou can make changes and additions as you go.
- Figure out how long you want your list to be. Ten is often considered the ideal number for lists, but any total between 5-10 will work. You may even be able to get away with 12 or 20 (although any other number between 10-20 will seem too arbitrary). More than 20 and your reader will begin to lose interest.1 Less than five and you don't really have much of a list, now do you?
- Organize your list.
- For ranked lists, order items according to your chosen criteria. Or even better, my chosen criteria.
- For educational lists, ensure your steps are in order, and try to highlight your most salient points by using short, concise statements like this one.
- For grocery lists, maximize efficiency by grouping similar items together, such as pasta fagioli and spaghetti squash.
- For entertaining lists, maximize your humor quotient2 by using lesser items to help build to the largest laughs, and always end with a kicker. Try to spread the funniest ideas out across the entire list.
- Start putting down your list, in order.
- Realize you don't have enough solid ideas to fill out your entire list.
- Come up with a new addition on the spot, and hope no one notices.
- Double-check your list for spelling arrears and to ensure you've listed the items in the possible sequence best. And there, you've done it! Congratulations! You've made a list!
- Don't tack another item on at the end just because you didn't think of it until after the list was complete. You'll look like an amateur.
1 Even if it's a grocery list, and your only reader is you. Trust me on this. I can't tell you how many times I forgot to buy Brussels sprouts or asparagus just because they fell at around #23 on the list.
2 LOLs ÷ WTFs.