Making a list

By Mark Patrick Spencer

This seems like a no-brainer (especially for the month of December) but too many people don’t employ a very simple tool to improve nearly every aspect of their workday. It’s called — making a list.

Sure we have calendars on our phones, on our laptops and apps. We have notes on our smartphones and Post-it notes all over our work area. We even have Siri to remind us of that all-important thing that needed to be done. Yet, somehow, some folks are just averse to making a list.

Lists rule the world, people. Be a list maker.

If you’re looking for an instant way to improve your productivity stop digging through the internet looking to buy the latest gizmo and take out your pad and pen. It’s probably sitting right there looking at you right now. Why you ask?

It’s a visual tool

A good list lets you know when it’s time to pick up the pace or, just as importantly, take your foot off of the gas and enjoy yourself for a bit. A list is always with you wherever you work. It is the reminder that is not forgotten. Don’t be surprised by a notification from your Google calendar. Put it on the list and plan for it and see it coming from a mile away.

It’s not all about work

Our workdays shouldn’t be all-day sprints or seem like a never-ending slog through a quagmire. Don’t make a list just to cram in absolutely everything that can’t wait and ohmygodhowcanIdoallofthisinoneday.

That’s not what a list is about.

Be realistic. If you’re a project manager you need time to chill. If you’re a creative you need to time to be inspired and gather new ideas. Put that in your list. Look at my list. I have not one but two times allotted for goofing off. These times are vital. Just like lunch is vital — eat your veggies, kids.

Oh, the satisfaction!

It might be slightly silly but it just feels awesome to mark something off the list. Put a big slash through that item! You might even be an ‘X’ it out person. That’s fine too. You can work on a Zorro slash for all we care; the important part is that you do it. How lucky is Santa Claus? Now that’s a list maker.

Tomorrow is another day

A common reason for not wanting to make lists is that the list maker doesn’t think they will finish that day’s list and, thus, never makes one in the first place. That’s faulty logic at best and at worst will really, really embarrass you at some point in your career.

Life is a never-ending list. When you finish one list, you make another list and then you knock out that list and keep moving. This works, folks. Do it.

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