Make A List, Baby! Part 1

The most effective development tool you’ll ever use is a simple one: a list.

While the concept and the proper use of a list are for most people fairly basic, there are some who have taken the art of list building and have turned themselves in the Mozarts and Picassos of productivity and effectiveness. But the majority of us just scribble down a bunch of things and then easily forgets the reason for the list, or the list completely.

In part one of this post, I will show you a basic strategy for multiple list building that should help you get out of the ineffective list building habit. Part two will go in depth into the personal lists that I keep everyday that help me monitor my progress, or can at least alert me when progress is not being made.

Step one is to have a place of prominence to place your list once you’ve created it. Your desk is a fine spot for putting your list…if you don’t allow stuff to pile up on your desk and cover your list. Your list needs to live in a place where you will constantly have access to it. If your kitchen is a high traffic area for you, place it on the refrigerator. If your bedroom is your personal haven, put up a cork board or dry erase board so that you can put your list there. If you carry a smart phone, you can have your list always at your fingertips by keeping up with it in note form on your phone.

Step two is to name your list. Title your list so that it has a purpose (grocery list, tasks for work, Christmas gifts, steps for global domination, etc.) and only put items on the list that fit into that category. If you have a need or a task that doesn’t fit on the list you are currently building, figure out what purpose that need or task has, and make a new list with a new title that fits that purpose.

Step three is to limit your list. While the things you need to do may seem limitless, your capacity to get them done is limited by time, energy, and whatever resources you actually have available to you. Force a number on yourself to stop listing, and if you have more items then slots, eliminate the least important items. When you clear off enough items to make space on a particular list, add the missing items to the list.


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