The Value of a List

Why do people bother with writing down lists of everything that needs to get done? For procrastinators like me, a list can be seen like an impossible mountain to climb, so why not just avoid it? For others the idea of micromanaging their day makes their skin crawl, they would rather let the day just organically flow. Though two pretty solid reasons, what is missed is that what really matters isn’t getting done. There is no magic fairy godmother watching over you and making things happen that align with your dreams. Sorry, the buck stops with you on that one.

So with the new release of “List it, then do it.” I have some thoughts on the value and strategies for creating lists.

To categorize or not categorize. 

  • Categorize as you go. If you find that you have defined projects that require specific steps to accomplish, then yeah, organize your lists by project, date or parts of your life. This is where the first page of the myWeek system comes in handy. It allows you to create defined project lists for the week, work as well as personal. In fact, the “List it, then do it.” notebook also has a header line you can use as a title/category/date for your lists.
  • Don’t categorize. When life is chock full of crap to do, sometimes listing everything down regardless of what category is a great way to brainstorm and flush out your brain. A list is not a perfectionist activity. It’s the first draft of ideas, ponders and purging of stressors in your life. I think one thing I have learned is the idea that if we show what is personal versus work, in my life, I find work seems to supersede any personal ones. So to combat this, I add them to my day without defining its category. Specifically in the myWeek, yes the first page has the categories, but when it comes to assigning it to a day - I don’t label a task by its category - it is just something that has to get done!

Filter.

This one is big. Just because you have written it down, doesn’t mean you have to commit to it. Whether its that one job you get the weebie jeebies when you think of it… time to either ‘eat the frog’, delegate or delete it. Be honest with yourself as well as strategic. When you have your tasks written down in front of you, it helps you to start to see which ones are your top tasks and which are things you feel you should do, not necessarily what you want to do. Life has this tendency to throw in wrenches. For my family this week it was our cat and his peeing outside of his litter-box. This isn’t something you brush off, I can only hold my breath for so long and it’s nasty. So when new things come up you need to be able to shift things around to accommodate. Hence I love my pencil for this.

Perfection is for procrastinators.

Seriously. If you have an urge to write something down, don’t wait until you find that perfect notebook or your favourite pen. Grab whatever you have on hand, sticky notes, backs of receipts and the random golf pencil or Crayola felt - getting things written down sooner than later are part of the baby steps to getting your dreams made into reality.

Multi-task the checkbox (check circle for myLife products - I don’t love boxes).

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This was a strategy I learned from Franklin Covey. The checkbox is a box, not just for checkmarks and completions. I have adopted a few of the other marks in my workflow.

  • The ‘X’ is a powerful mark. When you decide to remove the task from your list. It is a purge for your state of mind, so feel free to use it.
  • The arrow is for forwarding. This is great when you want to mark it off your day and move it to another time.
  • Delegate. (initial and checkmark) This mark can simply be the initial of the person you have assigned the task to and then confirm the person took on the task with a checkmark beside their initial.
  • In Progress. (a solid dot) Sometimes a task will take longer than the time you have for the day - so besides adding the task to another day, you can note a dot in the space to show you have made progress. Another suggestion would be to fill in like a piece of pie the amount of work you did complete on it and show how much you have left.
  • And of course... the check mark. In fact - feel free to skip that and just cross off the whole line. Go crazy.