Make A List, Baby! Part 2

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

Part one of this post gave you a basic strategy for multiple list building designed to help you get out of the ineffective list building habit. In this second part, I will show you the lists that I personally keep everyday. My lists four main lists keep me on track for my progress, and give me clues to when I’m not progressing like I should so, so that I can fix my focus. I have owned a PDA or smart phone since college, so I have become accustomed to keeping my lists with me for instant review or editing for almost 20 years.

My first list is what I call my Daily Journal. This list is literally a place to jot down everything that I do throughout my day from the moment I wake up to the time I turn out the lights to go to sleep. My Daily Journal allows me to figure out exactly what I have accomplished on days when I know I have worked hard, but end up tired and frustrated because there were no obvious returns from my efforts. It also helps me keep up with the progress of my personal and my professional goals, along with keeping a eye on my health with notes for checking my blood sugar, the meals and snacks I eat, and whatever exercise I can squeeze in. I even use my Daily Journal to help compile a weekly review document of myself I call my Weekly Wrap-Up Log (which is why I have found the electronic method of keeping a journal much easier that carrying and recording in a paper bound journal, despite my love for Moleskine notebooks).

My second list is a basic listing I create every night of things I need to work on the next day, which I call my Daily Dozens. I came up with the name as I was working on creating a product on making lists, and thought it sounded catchy, and that ten spots were never really enough on my personal list. In fact, twelve spots is often not enough, as I’ll find I have accomplished additional things that happened to spring up on me throughout the course of a work day that turn out to be fairly important. Because of this, I have the right to add to this list as many more tasks completed throughout the day as I choose (normally no more that 16). Throughout the day, I mark off the tasks I have worked on with significant progress (but not necessarily completed). This list shows me my task priorities as I say they are, and ultimately what I actually focused on completing.

My third list is my 30 Minutes A Day Log. I created a document that covers the Four P’s of Life Management, with the key to devote at least 30 minutes a day to each P:
TO PLAN,
TO PLAY,
TO PONDER, and
TO PAUSE. It is with this log that I keep track of how well I am accomplishing my progress in life management, where some days are much better than others.

My forth list is what I call my Running Notepad, and it doesn’t fall in line with the normal concepts of lists. My Running Notepad is just a file that I use to put down any random idea that pops into my head that I think I will be able to do something with later. I have been carrying little notebooks for ideas since middle school, and the process just got a little more organized (and easier to transcribe) when I started doing more note taking in my PDAs and smart phones. I also use a service called Jott that allows me to leave a verbal note that gets transcribed for me to move into my Running Notepad file if my hands are not available. I am also trying to get the hang of the new Google Voice for recording and transcribing important phone interviews.

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