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Insights to Paula Rizzo’s book, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed says a whole lot.
A to-do list will make you more efficient in getting stuff done for the day. But a goal – or life-list will set your real dreams in motion. Sketching out where you’d like your life to go on paper is a smart exercise because it really makes you think about where you are currently and where you’d like to go.
In his book The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande cites studies demonstrating that, even when performing familiar tasks, professionals that use checklists make fewer errors. The FAA requires pilots with thousands of hours of flying experience to use a checklist before takeoff.
In addition to helping you be more efficient, a checklist for a recurring undertaking allows you to more easily delegate it to someone else. You can also use the checklist to review the status of that assigned project.
A checklist clears your mind. Rather than trying to remember things, you can simply look at your list.
It also affords you the opportunity to step back and see the full picture. When you write down all the things on your mind, it’s easier to see what’s going on in there. When you write down all the things you need to do for your project, it’s easier to see the scope of the work.
The real power of lists is that they help you think on paper. When you write things down, you give yourself another chance to be more objective. When you let things swirl around in your head, it’s easy for them to get distorted like a funhouse mirror. When you write things down, you can also add precision. You can refine your thoughts and simplify.
Never take for granted the power of effective list making. A list grants you the opportunity to focus. If you lose focus, write down the three wins you want to achieve, or make a list of three take-aways. In a team scenario, a list can help everybody keep their eyes on the prize, and the top priorities.
A lists make it easy to manage large set of information. You can use lists to collect things. They are a great way to hunt and gather things.
In terms of prioritizing, you can use lists to rank things. You can sort, rank, and rate the items on your list. This can help you focus your energy and attention on the top things that count.
When it’s time to process, you can follow these steps for each idea:
Do it. If the task will take less than 2 minutes, just do it right now.
Defer it. If it’ll take longer than 2 minutes or something to be done later in the calendar, put a deadline on it.
Delegate it. If someone else needs to do the task or you need help, send the email or make a note to get what you need.
Truly, a list is the way to go. It helps you stay focused and organized.