Lists: Putting the Focus on Success

Some people are great lists makers.  Whether shopping, going to a business meeting, planning an event, tracking their expenses, setting priorities for the day, these people are intuitively organized about the way they live their lives through lists making.

Other people, myself included, are less likely to structure their lives around lists, but go along through the day as things come up.  I want to be more of a list maker.

I believe that lists makers are more productive, experience less stress, have a more clear mind, and work shorter days than those of us who just take care of things as these things pop in front of us.  At least, I seem to have a more productive, less stressful day, and can focus better on my work when I have a plan laid out for the things I need to do.

I remember reading a book called The Book of Lists.  I really enjoyed the book and as it turns out, according to Books of Lists, authors Irving Wallace, David Wallechinsky, and Amy Wallace, collaborating and working separately, produced a series of books of lists on odd and curiously interesting topics: world’s greatest libel suits, worst places to hitchhike, people suspected of being Jack the Ripper, and so forth

So some of you may want to save your daily activity lists.  You may find they produce a book  someday.

I sometimes find that if I make a list, I am more likely to actually use it when it is a short list of things of genuine importance.  I might have a list of the three most important people for me to call today.  I might have a list that only has one thing on it, such as a long tedious task that will take several hours and may involve taking breaks and returning to for the entire day.

I also find that lists can become outlines with categories and subcategories.  For example, I may have on my list three people to call and under each person’s name, I may have a list of things to cover with that person.

Common sense seems to be to limit your lists to things that you really need to get done.  With this approach you are more likely to actually use your list and more likely to get to the things done that have genuine importance.

To me, the really important lists are those lists that involve things I want to discuss in meetings or on the phone.   Putting these lists together may take a little preparation and review and can become really  important in getting cooperation.  In these cases, I write down what I want to cover.  I may need to review or research my activities with the people who will be in this meeting so that I am be mentally fresh on the material to be covered.

I may try to anticipate questions that a person might have so that I can do some research in preparation for answering those questions.   This preparation can create a list of material in itself.

Some people find it helpful to keep a private journal, often in long hand on something simple like a legal pad.  Making a list right before you go to bed may help you sleep better and wake up with your plan for the day prepared and perhaps sitting on your night stand. 
For some people, writing a list of the issues on their mind takes the power away from the thoughts they are carrying around in their head.  They become more in control of planning their moves instead of ruminating on their anxieties.
The main thing about making lists is that you actually use them.  I got into a routine of scheduling monthly activities.  Over time, I had so many monthly activities that I could not possibly get to them all.  What I have found in terms of recurring activities is only to list the really big activities that I know that I will do.  These activities are only on a list so that I can keep track of when I last performed the activity and when the activity comes due again.

I want to be a list maker.  I have started a new technique of using a reference sheet that I use to keep track of business activity.  My list goes into the very first space on this reference sheet.  I feel better about the likelihood of becoming an effective list maker and will let you know how it works for me.

The World’s Most Noble Headhunter