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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The list - Getting It Done!

The single most effective time management tool I have ever utilized is a hand-written list.  Any time I go for a period without working from to-do lists, I do notice a drop in efficiency and productivity. Far more gets accomplished with a list to guide me than without.

I do prefer the tactile feel of applying pen to paper. It's more carefully executed and more permanent than a list produced on a digital platform. There's just something about the act of writing that is more thoughtful and more deliberate.

Many recommend that one create lists on daily, weekly, and monthly levels, and some say annual and five-year lists should be considered.  Although I do write down longer-range goals, I think that for now, I'm doing pretty well with just a weekly list to help guide me along.  It allows me to focus on the week ahead, plan and prioritize, and make commitments on execution without feeling trapped by the restrictions of daily lists, or overwhelmed by a detailed monthly list.  Flexibility is nice.  If you've got a good head of steam and you're really sailing through projects, you can knock out even more on that week list than you originally intended for the day.

As your projects and priorities get accomplished, there are further benefits.  The act of making check-marks and drawing lines through items is ridiculously satisfying. That satisfaction goads you on to complete more so that you can make even more check-marks and lines.  At the end of the week, you may not realize how much you accomplished, but then you pick up that messy list and have a look - and with a sense of accomplishment you realize that yes - you actually did get a lot done!!  That finished list is now also like a checkpoint on a map.   It shows your progress on longer range projects so far, which will help you chart your course for the coming week.

I've put an awful lot on myself for upcoming projects, goals, and aspirations and even adventures in the next twelve months lying before me.  With all that daunting stuff ahead, using lists has gone from handy to essential - or maybe even mandatory. It's the only way I can keep everything straight.  Without goals you don't have a destination - but if you have a goal and are without planning and lists, you have a destination without a map or compass, or a solid idea of how to get to there from here!

Well, back to my own list for the week ahead - let's see how much of that I can get accomplished!

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