As some of you may remember, I was featuring a tip each Tuesday as a way to share my ideas, recommendations, and hopefully helpful hints with readers. I haven’t posted one in a while, but this week, Tuesday Tips returns! Or maybe I’ll call them Johnny Recommends?
This week’s tip is about list making. I make lots of lists; many of them are a little crazy and all over the place, including lots of different ideas, to-dos, little drawings, etc. Others are very short and focused on specific tasks to be done for an individual project or event. Often I even make short lists of my goals for a single day to get me on track and keep me focused. Regardless of the nature of my lists, I find it incredibly helpful to make them, and it’s usually fun to break out my little notebook and get my ideas on paper before they are lost forever, or at least until the next time they cross my mind…
The best thing about lists is that anyone can make them! List making is a strategy you can use to stay on top of responsibilities, but also to get a visual and more physical handle on the millions of things you’re thinking of, want to do, or sometimes just have to do. A list makes it easier to prioritize tasks, and organize ideas or projects according to time, importance, etc. Sometimes the hardest part of tackling your goals is figuring out what to do first, last, and in between; once you have this planned, you can really get to work! If you don’t have much experience using lists as organizational tools, I would recommend that you start with short lists of key tasks or goals for a particular day, or a few initial steps toward a specific accomplishment. These lists may only include three or four items, but when you can check off a short term to-do or a critical action related to a defined goal, you feel really motivated to keep working towards it.
Once you’ve established your short and sweet list making skills, you can start making more general lists that allow for a little more fluidity and free form of ideas, tasks, etc. Maybe there’s a list of projects you have been meaning to finish up, or a list of people or companies you need to contact because you’re hoping to work with them. The projects or companies on your list don’t need to be related and you can start by simply getting them all on paper together. From here, you can prioritize the projects or communications whatever way works best for you, and maybe add mini tasks that are, in a sense, stops along the way to completing each project. Now you have a small, simple, but clear roadmap towards some goals, and that’s really the whole point of lists! The more you make, the better you will get at crafting and using them to be the most effective for your working style.
Finally, there are some great list making tools that I rely on, plus they are fun to use! I always have a small notebook with me so I’m ready when the list craving hits. One of my favorite notebook brands is Moleskine, but there are also some more specialized products that allow you to list our goals and steps in a more structured way. Check out Creatives Outfitter to see some of these designs. I also like to use gel pens and the old high school favorite, mechanical pencils. If I have to make capture some ideas and thoughts via my iPhone, I use an app called, Things. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to these tools, and you’ll find that they can actually add a lot to the list-making process and experience of working towards your goals. I hope I’ve inspired some of you to start using list making for fun, to map out your dreams, or just to see your ideas together on paper! I think you’ll find that lists are effective and fun, and once you start you’ll wish you had been making them for years. Keep an eye out for next week’s tip!