People come up and ask me all the time, “Bob, what the heck are you doing?” Most of the time my response is, “I’m making a list.” If I had to single out one thing that makes my adult life easier it could be summed up in one word: beer. But, other than that, my lists are the most important things to me.
My wife, Michele, taught me the secrets of making lists years ago and to this day, I haven’t forgiven her. Lists are important because without them, you would have no reference point at the end of the day as to what a complete failure you really are.
I’ve learned that it’s always a good idea to cross off an item as soon as you’ve completed it. Doing so has a couple of advantages; 1) It gives you a feeling of accomplishment, and 2) Umm, please refer to #1.
It’s important to remember that we’re not miracle workers and we’ll never complete everything on our lists every single day. One secret that I’ve found over the years is to put stuff on the list that you know you’ll do just so you can cross it off. One that works for me is ‘breathe.’ It’s easy to do and easy to cross off.
The value of making “To Do” lists can’t be underestimated but, in order to maximize their effectiveness, I caution you to write legibly. I had a very close call the other day when I wondered why in the world I would want to ‘prune the sheets.’
I have also learned to use lists to my advantage. Making a list is easy; it’s the actual execution that’s the difficult part. For instance, I have had on my list for four months ‘buy car.’ Now, buying a car is not something I want to do because I’m cheap. Consequently, I keep seeing ‘buy car’ every day on my list. I finally figured out a way around it. I simply removed the word ‘buy’. Now whenever I pull out my list, I just see ‘car,’ which could mean anything. So, I wash the one I have and cross it off. Make the lists work for you!
Trust me. Making lists makes you a more productive person and the practice also works to improve your time management skills. This leaves you with more time to do the things you really want to do; make more lists. As Michele always says, “Anybody can do things, but if you don’t have a list to tell you what to do, you may not be doing things that are on your list!”