Wednesday, 27 June 2012

List Magic

I love lists.  Lists are awesome.  I got distracted by YouTube while writing this post, and do you know why?

Because I didn't have it on a list.

List are the simplest and best organizational tool.  You don't need any fancy tools but something to write with and on.  I can be somewhat disorganized, and I have tried a variety of different styles of dayplanner, in both electronic and dead-tree formats, to varying degrees of success, but do you know what I always come back to?


A short time ago, I wrote a post about motivation, and how hard it can be to get motivated.  Well, lists can help with that.  There is nothing easier than making a list.  I know people who make tonnes of lists and never do anything on their lists.  That's not exactly a great plan, but at least they've got the first step down?  And once you have a list, there is nothing more satusfying than getting to cross stuff off of it.  That is where the motivation of the list lies.

In order to really get myself going, I like to make lists with easy stuff on it.  At the beginning of the day, I'll be like, okay, I actually need to get stuff done today, so let's make a list.  And the first thing on that list will be "Eat Breakfast", which is great, because then I eat breakfast, and I can already cross something off my list.  And accompanying that is a sense of accomplishment!  And then you want to cross more things off your list because it makes you feel good, and before you know it, you are the most productive person in the world.

Lists are also great for overwhelming projects.  You know those projects that just seem so damn big, and you have no idea how to tackle it because there's just so much to do.

Well, you break it down, turn it into a list of little things you can do.  And then, because the parts are easier to deal with, and crossing each item off gives you that sense of accomplishment that motivates you to cross te next thing off the list, before you know it, you've tackled the entirety of your large project and you kicked its ass!

Finally, you can use this to your advantage when job hunting.  I quite often get the question "what's your worst trait?" in job interviews.  I hate that question.  What do they want you to say, "I'm just so darn nice, it's a curse, really." I don't think so.  But no employer wants to hear something like, "Well, I can be hard to motivate."  That just makes you sound lazy.

So, what I do, when I get that question, is respond with something like the following:
Well, I can be kind of scatterbrained.  But over the years, I've come to recognize that, and I've found that making lists really helps me to focus and prioritize what I need to do!  Not only that, but it's super motivating to cross items off the list, I just find it really helps me to get what I need to do done! I always feel so accomplished when I finish a list.  It's a great way to keep me focussed, I'm really glad I figured that out.
 And I mean, I don't just run it off like a memorized spiel, I add the thoughtful pauses that make it look like I'm thinking about it on the spot, etc.  Make it seem natural and organic.

And it's not a lie - I do find that making lists focusses me and helps me to prioritize the things I need to do - and I always feel better about myself at the end of a day when I managed to get all - or even most - of a list crossed off.  I try to aim for at least 75% completion, and I try to include fun stuff, too (like "read a chapter of my book"), just to keep the the motivation levels high.

Try it, I'm certain it will work for you.  And if it doesn't, well...  I don't know what to say to that.

Let me know how lists work for you, or if you have any other suggestions on staying organized and motivated!

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