List-making can be incredibly powerful, functional and rewarding - if done well. Learn the five basics about list-making - how to maximize their effectiveness and the role they play in your life. You'll find you're more organized, efficient - and productive.
Lists can be very powerful tools when you understand their importance. Here are 5 list reminders:
1. It's not just about making lists.
Jill diligently makes lists each and every day, from her things to do, to movies she'd like to rent, to creative ideas that pop into her head. One would think that Jill is incredibly organized and gets tons of stuff completed.
In truth, it's just the opposite. Jill writes everything down, but never refers to her lists. She finds enjoyment in making the lists and feels more organized to have these lists in her possession. She appears organized to outsiders, but in essence is getting very little, if anything, done.
Lists can be very powerful tools, but only if you refer to them daily, and apply what you've written on them.
It's good to make lists, but for them to be worth anything, you have to actually DO the things on your list.
2. Let your lists remember for you.
Jack felt that it was unnecessary for him to write things down, like errands he had to run, or special dates he wished to remember. He even worked as a waiter at a local pancake house, and would never write the customer's order on his pad. He prided himself on being able to remember things without the need to write them down.
One day, while in the pancake house, I watched and listened as Jack took down an order--in his head, not on
paper. In taking the order this way, he forgot two things:
a) one of his customers wanted lemon for her tea, but he accidentally brought her cream and
b) another customer did not want mayonnaise on her sandwich, and the sandwich arrived with gobs of it. He thought he could remember everything, but obviously he could not. His customers were not impressed by his memory, and his boss wasn't either. In fact, the boss said she would have been more impressed if everything was written down, and everything was delivered as expected.
The bottom line is, no matter how good one's memory is, it's never a good idea to rely solely on memory. The average person has tons of things to remember in a given day, and things are bound to be forgotten. If you write things down there's no need to remember and errors will be reduced dramatically.
3. Making a list doesn't take more time. It saves time.
Margaret says that by the time she writes things down, she could have them done. So, she randomly does things throughout her day.
Yesterday, she woke up and saw a pile of laundry. So, she started the laundry. Then, she remembered she had to pick up cat food. So, she got in the car and took a ride over to the pet food store. When she arrived home, the mail arrived so she decided to begin going through the mail.
Her phone rang while she was doing so, so she put the mail down. She picked up the phone and it was her daughter asking her to pick her up from school at 3:00 that day. When she got off the phone, she decided to do a little bit of dusting. And then she remembered she had to stop at the dry cleaner.
And this is exactly how her day continued on--not following any kind of list and just randomly doing tasks here and there.
In doing so and not writing anything down, she totally forget to pick up her daughter at 3:00. Her daughter called her at 3:15 and asked what the problem was, and she had to dash out to get her.
At the end of the day, the clothes were still in the washing machine. She had never gone back to put them in the dryer. Her mail was still sitting on the coffee table--half opened. Her dusting was only half done. Plus, she never remembered to get the clothes at the dryer cleaner.
It never saves time to try to keep everything in your head and to approach your day in a random manner.
Writings things down allows you to see the big picture, and to approach your day in a systemized manner that ends with you accomplishing many things and feeling
productive. Taking just a few minutes to write things down, can save you hours.
4. It doesn't take the fun out of it.
Cathy is afraid if she writes out a To Do list, the spontaneity will be taken out of her day. She sees herself as a creative person, and thinks the act of writing things down is restrictive.
At the same time, Cathy is unhappy with her many unfinished projects, and her lack of free time.
On the other hand, Barb writes everything down and believes she'll have more time for spontaneity by doing so. And she's right.
You see, just because you make To Do lists, that doesn't mean you can't be flexible. Even though I make To Do lists, I have often decided to be spontaneous and take
the afternoon off to enjoy a book outside or to take a walk in a nearby park.
A To Do list is simply a guide that allows you to systematically get things done, but it's not set in stone and it's not restrictive. In fact, I see the list as a tool to free my mind. I don't have to remember what to do. It's on my list. And if I decide to take the afternoon off, my list will remind me to get back to my projects tomorrow.
5. Have many lists, but not in many places.
Marlene has a list for everything--To Do, groceries, movies to see, books to read, places to visit, ideas to remember, gifts to buy, web sites to check out, people to call, letters to write--the list of her lists goes on and on. The problem is not that Marlene has so many lists. In fact, it's great to have the things you want to remember
Marlene's problem is that her lists are written on sticky notes, notebooks, scraps of paper tossed in drawer, torn envelopes attached to her fridge and random papers scattered on her home office desk and kitchen table. In other words, she has lists, but she can never find them.
Your lists won't do you any good if you don't know where they are. Keep your lists in a binder (such as the Get Organized Now! Easy Organizer) or in a filing system. They should all be in one place and easily accessible when you need them.