List-Making: Personalities, Techniques & Tips

There’s a lot more to list-making than you might realize. From personality profiles to list-types, to different strategies for creating a list, there is definitely no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to the technique of list building. 


Today we’ll go in-depth into the art and science of list creation. Hopefully you’ll recognize aspects of yourself in one of the different “list-maker” personality types and begin to implement some of the strategies and tips I address to help you become a more efficient and effective list maker. 


Let’s first talk about List-Making Personalities.


I found this incredible resource called The List Producer. The woman behind this site, Paula Rizzo, identifies and characterizes four different “personality profiles” of list makers. She calls them the monkey, the squirrel, the dolphin and the tiger. Each of these personality types has their own unique styles and strengths when it comes to list-making. 


They are as follows:



·     Has a list for EVERYTHING!

·     Normally a very organized and efficient person

·     Each list has a “home,” whether that be a spiral notebook or an app such as Notes.

·     These lists have an order and structure. They might even be color-coded!

·     Can become distracted by the list-making itself, however, and spend more time adding items than actually crossing them off. Deadlines can help to prevent this.


·     Tend to be creative types; lots of ideas going on at once

·     Writes lists on anything; back of a receipt, an envelope, or a paper towel, as examples

·     Doesn’t organize or separate lists; grocery lists and to-do lists are often written together 

·     Despite some big ideas, these types can often get distracted and as a result, things never get accomplished

·     Can avoid this by creating a separate, “plan of action” type list for ideas, and keeping the “need to buy” and “need to do” elsewhere


·     Very organized, known for their sharp, quick minds

·     Big user of productivity and list-making apps 

·     Productive and efficient, not afraid to outsource

·     Tend to be busy, doesn’t have time to “write things down”

·     Might not accomplish goals; oftentimes the physical act of writing down a task or goal will actually plant the seed of progress 



·     Tends to be a more male-dominated personality type

·     Laid back organization approach; focusing on the now as opposed to worrying about tomorrow

·     Writes a daily list; only contains the tasks of the day. Enjoys the feeling of completing a list.

·     Doesn’t usually write or track long-term goals. As such, can sometimes miss opportunities or not see the “big picture.” Can avoid this by periodically creating, and checking in on, long term goals and tasks.


Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? You can learn more about Paula and her insights at


submit the form below to download your free list-making strategies cheat sheet now! 


So now that we’ve identified major list-making personalities, let’s discuss several different types of grocery lists...


There are more than you might think!


The Perpetual List– Keep list on whiteboard or magnetized to fridge and add items as you run out or think of them. This can be useful when you’re in the middle of another task, it’s easy to forget that you ran out of a pantry staple when you’re moving from one task to the next quickly. 

The Recurring List– sort of like a “master” list, this is for people who more or less buy the same things each week. Simply create a list of the foods you buy at every shopping trip, and re-use or re-print each time you shop. Leave a few lines at the bottom for additional items. 

The Categorical List– I might venture to say this is the most “popular” style of grocery list. Foods and other items are organized by “category” such as frozen, produce, etc. It’s even more helpful if you arrange these categories by location in your store. This increases your likelihood of moving from one department to the next without forgetting something. 

The Geographical List  - Some people are visual thinkers. This type of list is for them. Map out a plan of the store and add items to your “map” based on where they’re found. Some stores even offer a “map” like this at customer service. You can ask at the desk if they have a floor plan. (Forgive me if you get weird looks for this inquiry, though. Some stores have them, definitely not all do.)


The type of list that will work best for you will depend upon your learning style, your personality type, and also your lifestyle.


In addition to “types” of grocery lists, I’ve also come across several unique styles of list-making techniques.

Again, what will work best for you depends upon a number of factors, such as lifestyle, schedule, and personality. 


·     For those of us who loathe the idea of grocery shopping, building a “master list” might be a good option. (See “Recurring List” above.) What you’ll do is create a categorized list of the items you buy at every shopping trip. You then transfer this list to an actual shopping list, leaving space in each category for additional items. You can create this list as a word doc or write it down in a notebook and just make copies of the master list every time you shop. 

·     You can shop off of your meal plan, by figuring out what meals you’ll be cooking or preparing, and then making a list of what ingredients or items you’ll need to purchase. You can also do this from the store sales flyer, first determining what’s on sale to create your meal plan, and then writing down what you’ll need to purchase.

·      I also highly recommend keeping a continuous inventory of staple items. When you run low on something from the pantry or freezer, make a note of it on a white board, a magnetic notepad, or in a notebook. 

·     One last technique I recently came across is called the “Reverse Grocery List.” Essentially, you create a master list of pantry, fridge, and freezer items you currently have on hand (it’s best to create this for the first time right after you’ve gone grocery shopping) and organize those items in a categorical list, leaving space for additional items. When the time comes to grocery shop, you simply cross off items you don’t need, or add items you do. For more information on this type of list making check out the article In Reverse: The Smarter Way to Organize Your Grocery List

(this is definitely a technique I’m interested in trying.)


No matter how you compile your list, and no matter what type of “list-maker” you are, what matters is the actual accomplishing of the task, or the purchasing of the groceries, am I right? In putting together this research, I came across some really interesting tidbits that I thought would be fun to leave you with:


·     Richard Branson (Entrepreneur and billionaire) is an avid list maker. He recommends the following tips

1.    Always carry a notepad or notebook, when it comes to task-completion, paper beats digital. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)

2.    Write down every idea that enters your mind

3.    Find (and utilize!) the list-making technique that best suits you. 

4.    Make sure to cross off completed tasks

5.    Set measurable goals for yourself, with a time frame in mind

6.    Set crazy, never-in-a-million-years goals for yourself. Where can you dream yourself to be in 10 years? 

7.    Set and record both personal and business goals 

8.    Share your goals with others. Celebrate your successes. 


From personality profiles to list-types, to different strategies for creating a list, there is definitely no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to the technique of list building. 


·     Despite the tendencies of our dolphin-personality type friends, (see above) lists made on paper seem to get accomplished more than their digital counterparts. Why? Science has shown that the actual act of writing helps us to retain the information. In other words, writing it down keeps it in mind. 

So, there you have it. An in-depth look at lists. Who knew so much could be said for something so seemingly trivial? I hope I’ve given you some useful and interesting information that will help you discover your own list-making personality, and maybe incorporate a technique or two into your own list-making habits to improve your efficiency and effectiveness. 


Please also download the free printable below that summarizes this information so that it can be used and shared.


Take care for now!