The Problem with Helpful Lists

overwhelmLots of us are out here writing and blogging in order to educate, inform, inspire or recommend.  One of the most popular formats for these writings is The List.  You know, the 10 Ways to Do “This”, the 25 Rules for Successful “That,” the 50 Most Important “Other Things.”

It’s a simple, readable and digestible format. Writing should be content-rich, so having lots of ideas in one article or post can translate into more helpful information for readers.

But I’m also a reader/consumer of this information and I see the downside of these helpful lists.


When you read something really great with lots of helpful tips, ideas or recommendations, the initial urge is to act on all of them. Which is usually impossible. It’s the New Year’s Resolution syndrome. You make huge plans for big change and then are unable to follow through with anything because of the complexity of what you hoped to accomplish.

Better to take just one idea from the helpful list and act on that.  If you simply can’t let go of the information because it’ so great, then bookmark it or print it out and create a reminder to look at it again in a month –when you can choose one more item to absorb into your business or life.


  1. Nancy Hightshoe. M.A. on October 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    VERY smart, Mary! Your advice came just in time as I’m writing a targeted newsletter. You helped me decide how I want to approach a lot of important information! Thank you!

  2. Mary Kutheis (kooth-ice) on October 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Why thanks, Nancy! Glad it was helpful and timely, too.