Friday, August 10, 2007

Thinking in lists

I am a prolific list maker. It's my tool for collecting tasks &/or needs and tracking them. My lists are not ToDo's, I find that too defeating and overwhelming as I try to get them all done. Instead, these lists are things I am tracking, whether they be bugs, ideas, major projects, date deliverables, meeting points (one list I have is things I want to do before I get old :-)

My list-making came from an early experience, where I wrote down bugs and feature requests/ideas on a list, using pen/paper and numbering them sequentially. I lost the first list after 680, started a new list which I used for years (and regulalrly photocopied as a backup). I stopped in the 16,000s. Now, I think in lists and will sometimes even write emails as a list.

I found the experience very empowering. It allowed me to have an open conversation with any staff/client/executive/team member and record the results, without making any commitments. It allowed me to separate the information gathering from the commitment making. And "Jon's List" began to take on mythical proportions at my company, with every sales rep wanting to take me to lunch.

Again, the key for me was not to think of these items as ToDo's. They were list items which had many different facits. And yes, I crossed them out when done, or "Z'ed" them if no action needed, but it was still not a ToDo list. I can now think beyond lists, and my lists today are much more modest in size, but it's still a critical tool for me.

No comments: