Living an Organized Life // The Master List

Whenever I’m asked, “How do you do it all?”  I always laugh and say, “I don’t!”  And then I want to ask you the same thing!  We wear so many hats these days, especially when we have kids to raise and take care of.  There are so many things to juggle in our lives- work (at home or outside), home room mom, sports mom, grocery shopper and meal preparer, chauffer, homework supervisor, all the while trying to have a life that may involve commitments with friends, church, fitness, caring for ailing family members, etc.  
Whenever I get overwhelmed by life pulling me in different directions, I always return to my “Master List” and it helps calm me down and focus.  The Master List is just a giant brain dump onto a piece of paper that I organize into different categories of my life. Getting all those ideas and to-dos out of my head and onto the page makes me breathe a little easier.  When I can see the things on paper, I’m less likely to stress about forgetting something and less likely to actually forget.  I can also prioritize the things that need my attention most.  The Master List and Calendar are my two best organizing friends!

I have used organizational apps on my phone (like Reminders, Things, and Clear), but I always come back to my written List. Lately, I’ve been drafting my Master List on the computer giving the main categories a different color, then printing it about twice a week.  I try to keep the first page general life categories and Page 2 for blog related things.  I use Pages (the Mac equivalent of Word) and the two-column option.  
Here’s an example of how my Master List looked on the computer after a recent “brain dump”.  Some of the items aren’t necessarily “to-dos” that get crossed off and are done, never to be heard of again, but more of a gentle reminder of things to do daily, like prayer or meditation.  Or things I’m working with my son on, like reading/writing practice. 
I’ll print out the list and highlight the things I plan to do that day, and cross off items that I’ve completed.   Doesn’t crossing off feel so good?! I keep the list handy and edit and reprint as needed.
My favorite Master List accessories. 

And speaking of getting organized, several of my close girlfriends swear by Amazon Prime.  Do you use it?  It’s a program where you pay $79 a year, and get movies and books instantly, but the feature my friends rave about is the unlimited Free 2-day shipping with no minimum order size.  These girls are full-time working moms who buy a lot of their household items from Amazon.  While I was running from store to store trying to find everything the school required this year (and the list was not short), Angela ordered all her daughter’s school supplies on Amazon while we were sitting at school during orientation!  Tisha gets all her family’s paper goods from Amazon so she’s not lugging home a massive carload full of items.  I must admit, I’m tempted to sign-up.  I use Amazon a bunch, especially for random items like my bracelet organizer and a hair-drying brush (just ordered this- but it’s not coming in 2 days!).  It’s definitely easier to shop online than to run around to stores when your time is limited. 

Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial to Amazon Prime so I’m thinking of trying it. Are you using Amazon Prime?  If so, how do you like it?  I can imagine if I signed up, I’d start buying more household items there- the convenience sounds really nice.  Do you do a version of the Master List?  If you prefer an app, which one? 

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I’m sharing this post with my friend Jen at I Heart Organizing.
On Honey We’re Healthy lately:  Homemade Granola & Faith
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Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


  1. I have used Amazon Prime for the last several years and it's worth every penny of the price. I can order presents, create wish lists for family members, RENT my school textbooks–the free 2 day shipping is just the start of the great benefits it offers. No affiliation, just a loyal fan.

    I too have a Master List, but I keep mine on my laptop/iPhone in Evernote. Another must have–even the free version is a game changer. I can keep all my lists, share them with other people, and clip articles to read while waiting for carpool, etc.

    1. I saw this on Pinterest and followed it here….the Master list is just what I need! I had too many little lists and felt overwhelmed. So I spent some time creating a master list, and almost immediately, got to work on some things I kept pushing until "later." Two of them are now done! Thank you! This is going to be a standard tool for me going forward!

  2. Amazon Prime is my lifesaver and I love their Subscribe and Save program – I haven't bought diapers from a store since my youngest was born 17 months ago, they just show up at my door on the 11th of every month, and for less expensive! I know your son isn't in diapers anymore, but almost any product can be put on Subscribe and Save. Anyway, Amazon comes to my doorstep about 3-4 times/week with stuff from a new $3 spatula to a $100 juicer to a $600 wooden pantry. I don't know what I'd do without my prime membership!

  3. I LOVE Amazon prime, I've had it for 3 years now and I buy a lot of my things from there. Especially little things that I would need to make an extra trip to the store for, which cuts down on the 'other' unnecessary things I might buy during that trip AND saves me from having to drive to the store or elsewhere for. They also sell things like hand soap and house cleaners in bulk which makes them cheaper and I can store them for whenever I need them, instead of having to go out and buy them when I run out. Plus I love the free streaming! Worth. Every. Penny.

  4. Love the idea of a Master List. I used to be so much better about making them. Need to start again. Don't shop on Amazon much, so not sure about using Prime. I usually only make the trip for certain items one time a month (and usually at Target since I get coupons and 5% back with my Red Card). I am also one of those that likes to see what I am getting.

  5. I'm a huge Amazon Prime fan too! I love the free two-day shipping and in general I find that Amazon has some of the best prices. I always check there first for things both smaller/stock items and larger purchases like strollers, furniture, etc. And I love the customer reviews for products – help makes that online decision a little easier 🙂

    And the Master List? Love! I also need to get my thoughts and to-dos out on paper but mine is in a messy notebook with lists that are written and then re-written as I work through them. Printing out an updated Master list is a much better (and cleaner!) answer.

  6. Yes to Amazon Prime! It is totally worth the money and ease!
    It is especially great around the holidays for that those last minute things you need!

  7. I am a huge list person! Love the feeling of crossing things off my lists! You will have to tell me how you like the brush you bought when it comes in! I have been thinking about purchasing one!

  8. I am a huge list person! I love the feeling of crossing things off! Great post! You will have to tell us how you like the brush you ordered when it comes in! I have been thinking about purchasing one!

  9. I LOVE Amazon Prime, and my master list is in a little notebook, I call it "My Everything Book" and it has everything from family addresses to daily to-do lists, inspirational quotes, my "books to read" recommendations that I've gotten, even some passwords -shhhh! don't tell! The notebooks used to be carried at one of our local drug stores, and when they stopped carrying them I ordered them – from Amazon – Kokouyo's Color-n-Color Collection, they're pink, blue, green, or yellow, 4×6 books. I always put a postcard in the front for my "cover" through the clear plastic, and keep a book of stamps, so I can send random post cards & letters via snail mail, no matter where I might be. Hmmm… perhaps I might have to blog about my Master List techniques! 🙂

  10. Another thumbs up for Amazon Prime! My husband and I started using it a couple of years ago when he was able to get a student discount of 50% off for one year! We've been hooked from the beginning! We often go shopping and find things we like, price-match on Amazon and have it at our doorstep in 2 days, usually paying a much lower price than from a store! We also do a lot of Christmas shopping from Amazon and buy our paper supplies from their subscription service. We really love it! And who doesn't love getting packages? It's like Christmas every time we order something, even it it's just toilet paper! 🙂

  11. I completely agree about lists helping to calm down and focus. I always have a list that I rewrite every week. Just last week I started typing it on the computer and I think I need to organize it into categories like you do. Right now it's just a brain dump, so sometimes it's hard to see my priorities.

  12. More thumbs up for Amazon Prime! Hubby and I have had it about a year now. Not only do you get the 2-day shipping, you also have access to lots of free books and movies. We dropped our netflix account because we get so many free movies on Amazon. Also, as an Amazon Prime account holder, you can have an account – free. I just started that last month and is it ever nice to get basic household goods delivered to the front door. I priced everything with Target and BJs (like Costco) and ended up signing up for a bunch of stuff. If you have 5 items delivered in a month, you save 20% too. Win! 🙂

  13. Amazon prime is a life saver. I have the app on my phone and use the scanner feature constantly to price check items. 9 out of 10 times amazon is the cheapest price. You will love it!!!

  14. Mater list. I love it. I don't think I have every put it all down in one spot. You are the queen of organization, my dear. And always making it look pretty.

  15. I need to check out this Amazon Prime. I can't figure out if I like running in circles doing errands or if I don't! LIke for instance, I know I could get all I need to in a week by sitting at my computer and ordering away and half the time not paying shipping and not wasting gas but then I still make lists on paper and run around!! LOL

    House Envy

  16. I keep a list too, though handwritten. I am not organized enough to type it out, lol. I tried prime for 30 days when it first came out but it was new and did not have many options for the movies and books and the shipping etc… was not a part of it then. I have been considering it again lately now that prime is a bit more robust, we buy a lot of things through Amazon so I can see value in it.

  17. I am exactly the same – getting things on paper instantly lowers my stress level. Just was thinking today I need to make a master list of annual house to-dos because it's so easy to forget little maintenance things when the months fly by as quickly as they do!

  18. I honestly don't know what I would do without amazon prime. I order things on a weekly basis. I work full time so there isn't much time for me to get all of the things I need and I hate spending time away from the baby when I could be with her so I literally use it constantly!

  19. I'm a list person too. I've finally found a great planner that I love that I keep my schedule, Ava's, the blog and Hubbies all in one planner. I don't know what I'd do with out it and my side bar check list and to do lists! the planner is from

  20. I have a list on the notes section of my phone that I update several times a day. It's such an amazing feeling to delete something. And, the calendar is a lifesaver of course. I've also stopped volunteering for room mom and team mom type things now that I have three kids and a part-time job. That helps, lol. I'm glad I've done both, but I'll gladly move aside for someone more organized!

    And, Amazon Prime is the best! I also get free books to borrow from the kindle library and since I'm a huge reader it's worth it. I pretty much buy all of my kids Christmas presents on Amazon, too.

  21. Just reading your list exhausted me. Yikes! I used Amazon prime on the free trial. I didn't sign up for a couple of reasons that I hope will get ironed out soon. Like if like to see some cooperation between Amazon and Apple products regarding their streaming if movies and kindle prime Ebooks for borrowing. Maybe soon…

  22. I love the idea of a master list. When I worked in an office I was a big list maker, but I've gotten away from them. Recently I've taken on a lot more family responsibilities so this is just what I need. Now to buy a wireless printer so I can make the list on my iPad and print it directly from there.

    I've been think about Amazon Prime, too, so it's nice to read all the positive comments.

  23. First of all, I saw Team Mom as Teen Mom…LOL!
    I see end S&D 🙁 I'm right there with you…
    I LOVE Amazon Prime and it is seriously worth it! I just bought all the supplies to organize the kitchen drawers. Their returns are so efficient I have no worries about buying and can return what I need to.
    I even bought spray paint!!!

  24. This is totally random and off-topic…but those papermate pens are my VERY FAVE! But I can never find them anymore?!?!?!

  25. I have a master list too!!! I have to write things down. It's very cathartic for me. I'm a big worry wart too so writing everything down keeps me from worrying as much. Mainly I use my iphone notes app for my daily to-do's but I have a printed one for bigger to-do's and I keep it on my fridge beside my meal plan for the week.

  26. A master list!! Yes, I need a master list! Somehow I thought things would slow down when the kiddos started kindergarten. Instead I'm busier than ever! I'll be starting a list tomorrow. Thanks!
    Oh…re: Amazon Prime – got it when the twins were babies and I love it. I highly recommend!

  27. You so so incredibly organized Megan! You inspire me to be better at it! I am a list maker but sometimes end up with small lists all over the place on various pieces of paper. I love your idea of a master list!

  28. Love Amazon Prime! Use it ALL THE TIME. Seriously fantastic service and I can only imagine what I am saving on shipping costs. I also use lists a lot. I have a master project list of things I want to do around the house and then, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I do exactly what you do. Write it all down in one spot. Makes me feel so much better. I just need to make my list pretty on the computer! That looks nicer than my scribbled down one and I am always up for some pretty in my life, even if it is just a list.

  29. Thanks for sharing your list. I love seeing how other people organize things.

    I have a list in my pc that I print off. The front is my daily routine and on the back, I list the things I need to do under each day. I typically only list three days at a time-all appts are in my calendar on my phone and any other to do items are listed in a separate column on the back of my daily routine sheet. That way, I know exactly what my days will look like. I typically create a new one every day or so and it works great. I also list everything in the order it will be done on that day; that way I won't forget anything. This list is my brain dump otherwise I wouldn't get as much done. Everything that is important goes into my daily routine. I also keep separate lists for lots of things-list for items in the wheelchair. I also cook everything from scratch so I keep my list of things I need to cook for that day on my kitchen chalkboard.

    I haven't used Amazon Prime but I know a lot of people just love it.

  30. I didn't read all the comments, so I don't know if someone already said this– but you can have four "users" on an account. So between my mom, two sisters, and I, we split it. So for $20 a year I get unlimited free 2-day shipping. We all ship each other's families' birthday and anniversary gifts to each other, since we all live in different places besides my mom and I. TOTALLY worth it! I probably ship more to other people with my Amazon Prime than myself.

    And I do keep a master list of sorts too. I gotta get all that stuff outta my head.

  31. Love amazon prime. use it allllllll the time. also, you can have more than one user….so i let my mom use it to ship stuff for free to her house and we just split the membership cost. i think you can have 3 users total. makes it even more worth it.

  32. I'm a huge believer in lists – and yes, paper lists for me also with multi-colored pens 🙂

    I haven't used Amazon Prime yet but I love what you said about having more than one user on the account – that would so make it worth it!

  33. I LOVE this! I too have tried every possible electronic list APP ever made and I still go back to old fashioned pen and paper. Only I am like several who have commented in that I have more than one list! Personal list, grad school list, Etsy list, blog list and it goes on and on and on! I can't wait to work on this! I don't use Amazon Prime but I buy a ton from them and may need to check it out after reading many of these comments! Thank you for your great post!

  34. Technical question…..I have set up 2 columns in Pages but how in the world do I get my typing to go in the other column? I can't even put cursor in there….help? Thank you! Stacey

    1. Stacey, when you are typing in the first column and get to the bottom, the curser with then move to the top of the second column. You can add extra spaces to the first column with your space bar so that the columns start where you want them to. I hope this helps!

  35. I really like the one at the head of the bed! I bought some ferns on
    sale ($3.99 a piece!) at an end of summer sale. I know they don't
    have a chance of surviving through the winter (I, too, kill
    everything) but I have lofty dreams of them flourishing in my
    reading window.

  36. I LOVE Amazon Prime! We've been using their Subscribe and Save for awhile now, and we get everything from razors, to dishwashing detergent, to coffee delivered to our door each month. I think we have somewhere around 15ish items on auto-ship. It's actually cheaper than at the store, but even if it wasn't, the saved time of not having to shop for all of that stuff makes me happy!

  37. Amazon Prime is awesome because I can set a budget and stick to it for my household supplies. I use Subscribe and Save and have all of my home stuff sent here. K-Cups, detergent, softener, garbage bags, paper products and on and on – even makeup! If you order more than so many items you also save 20%! Thanks for the master list idea!

  38. I'm with you, I do much better with a list & not an app. I like to write mine. Something about putting pen to paper helps me. I order a lot of stuff like hair products, facial cleansers & that sort of thing from You earn points on each purchase. Do a post on how the brush works!

  39. The master list is such a great idea! I usually have an organizer where I write down the daily things but sometimes those daily things can get sidetracked until later. This would be the perfect way to keep track of all of it in one spot.

  40. What a great idea! I have random lists everywhere, but having it in one place is nice so you can prioritize what needs to get done, going to have to try this out! Thank you. and we've had Amazon Prime and it's been nice. we've done diapers through Amazon Mom and saved quite a lot of money that way. Prime doesn't have all the latest movies and tv shows, but it's got quite a selection.

  41. i'm a first timer here! =) i discovered you from the "simply fabulously living" blog! first off, LOVE the master list idea. i do the same thing and it helps prevent the small things from slipping through the cracks and most of all it gets it out of my head and i stop obsessing over it. second off, i LOVE everything amazon. it started with my Kindle. my husband and i love books and our first xmas together i bought us the third or second generation model and let me tell you, it is one device that does one thing WELL! you can download classic books for free — once you get the hang of purchasing it remembers your tastes and makes recommendations (i have picked up great books that i wouldn't ever have stumbled upon in the bookstore) — it saves us space — you always have your entire library with you anywhere and everywhere! — if you're on vacation or out and about and want a new book, it's at the click of a button! — if there are books that you want to read in the future, you have a wishlist on your device — you can highlight words and look up the pronunciation and definition — if you're in public reading a book that has a controversial cover or title….no one can tell from your device! LOL — i could go one and on about the Kindle, believe me LOL

    anyhow, i loved it so much that i started using amazon for other things. particularly to do my regular shopping. i thought online shopping might be "unsafe" but it hasn't been that way on this site. then i signed up for prime and i fell more in love with amazon. the two day shipping is amazing! they actually have different memberships — there's an amazon Mom where you get discounts on diapers, you can share your prime with up to 4 children!

    i actually asked my hubby for the new kindle fire 8.9 hdx for christmas so i could download my magazine subscriptions and to use on my train commute to work. we gave up our netflix account a year ago and i just started taping into the amazon prime instant movie features. i honestly can't get enough of amazon — it really fits my lifestyle needs. i hope you feel the same way if you do sign up! good luck and i look forward to more of your blog!

  42. I plan on signing up fir AP this year… I've heard SO much good about it & I think it would be a good 'investment' :). I use my iPhone 'notes' for a lot of my notes. I usually use my voice type option & speak my notes right into my phone as things come to mind as I'm driving around each day… That way I don't forget. I also really love to use a plain spiral notebook & super tip markers to color code lists (kids, home projects, weekly shopping, yearly stock-up shopping, church, and daily to do lists). I seem to remember more of my list this way since I'm such a visual person.

  43. Thank you so much for this brilliant idea!! I am so excited to try-out a Master List page(s)! I have my "brain dump" in a notebook but everything is on different pages and hard to reference quickly. THANK YOU! Btw, love your blog! 🙂

  44. I love the post! I have a master list but it's handwritten. Looking at it gives my husband the hives, but I get more calm when I have it all in front of me.

    I also love Amazon Prime, but here's another positive nobody else mentioned yet (maybe it's new?) but Amazon has a program called AmazonSmile where they will donate 0.5% of each of your purchases to a charity of your choosing. Just make sure you're using the URL when you make your purchases; you still log into your Prime account like normal. It doesn't increase your prices or anything!! It's awesome and I can't see any negatives about it at all!

    I love Amazon Prime because my husband and I live far from from our families but travel to my folks' house during Christmas so we buy all of our gifts for our nieces and nephews and ship them up to my parents' house. Then, I'll wrap them once we're there so we don't have to lug presents while we travel.

    Love your blog!

  45. I love our Amazon Prime. I got it because I order from Amazon a lot throughout the year. The kids love the movies on Prime, too. I am working on a Monthly Master List, too, but our is for what we need in our home. Like dog food (we have to buy 2 kinds for our 2 dogs), cat food, etc.

  46. I love my Amazon Prime!!! It is a Mom's best friend, especially when you are a supper busy working mom. They never let you down and their prices are always the lowest!
    Did you ever get it?

  47. I've had Amazon Prime since they premiered it. I have a Kindle, so FREE lending library and the option on some books to lend to other kindle users (SWEET!). They JUST announced that they are doing Prime MUSIC today! 😀 I love Amazon, almost as much as I love Google 😀

    GREAT idea with the Master List! I kind of just float around getting distracted by all the things needing to be done around the house. Normally, when I clean, I go from room to room – but this immediately gets disrupted when I go to put something away in another room.

    Thanks for the advice 🙂

  48. Love this idea, going to give it a go, I feel like my brain has turned into jello since having two children. I already have a filofax so I will try and incorporate this into my planner too. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Do you still create your Master list this way? Is this how you determine what needs to be done during the week or have you started to use a digital app or website?
    Love reading your blog! Thanks.

    1. Hi Amy! Yes, I still use this! I've tried apps on my phone, but they never end up lasting for me. I guess I'm just old school this way for lists, but I have switched to reading magazines online and I love that!

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