The Joy of a Checklist


shutterstock_159036524Are you a list maker?

Do you live by your lists?

How many lists do you have going right now?

If you are like most people you have at least two lists. One for work stuff and one for personal stuff. How often do these lists overlap?

For most of recorded history there has been documentation of what’s been done, what needs to be done and perhaps what will not be done. I don’t envision, nor have I ever heard of, an old papyrus with a grocery list. But, today we have become over-scheduled to the point that without a little help from a friendly list things might fall by the wayside.

People now feel time accelerating.
Lists allow them to feel some sense of accomplishment.
David Viscott

There is a certain amount of joy in having a list. The joy can come in a few different forms. One is just the fact of having a list itself. Having it all written down is somewhat satisfying. Having it in a form you can look at whenever you want can be rewarding. But, to me, the ultimate joy of having a list is getting to check something off. What is your ultimate joy in having and using a list? (drop a note in the comments to share)

Analog or Digital?

There are a lot of ways to keep lists. There is the tried and true analog model of pencil and paper. There are digital options for your smart phone and computer too. Whether you use Post-It notes, 3×5 index cards or a composition notebook there is something to be said about pen and paper.

One of the best things about using paper is that it always boots
~ Sheila Scarborough

On the digital side of the equation there are a lot of apps for lists– just go to the app store of your chosen smart phone platform and type in “lists” and you will find a plethora of options. I have used quite a few of these, but I always seem to go back to my preferred tool to keep, manage and share lists. It’s Microsoft’s OneNote. I’ve been a user for over a decade now. It continues to improve. I have also used Evernote. Both products are great and I can recommend either one. If you don’t have either one yet I recommend trying both and see which ones work best for your needs. One thing you will find is that both are quite portable. No matter what devices you use you can carry your lists with you.

What is the Right Choice?

The simple answer is that there is no wrong choice. Choose whatever methods works for you. If you want to use a belt and suspender approach consider using a combination of analog and digital. I know there are times where I will write down my schedule for a long day in my notebook or on a 3×5 card when there is a chance my smart phone will run out of battery. This is much less of an issue these days, but it’s still an option to consider. Also, I kind of like knowing I can pull out my card at a moments notice to remember a name, a place or a time for a meeting.

How should you decide whether to go analog or digital? Well, that’s easy, start with a list. Write down the pros and cons of both. Then decide which options work best for you. There is no wrong answer.

The advantage of having lists is that you can allocate where you spend your time. If you have a list of things and you know it’s going to take a certain amount of time while requiring a specific level of focus you can adjust your schedule accordingly. There is also the benefit of being able to track your time. This can be helpful for current and future planning. You can also let other people know what you are working on and when you will be unavailable.

While you may not always be in control of your lists and time commitments it’s still important to help you Stand Out in Your Career to have a solid grasp on where and how you spend your time. Using lists can help you track, manage and allocate your time. As your career grows you will find a need to manage increasingly larger and more complex lists. Getting a handle on a few methodologies that work for you now will help speed this process.

No matter what methods you choose there is that Joy of a Checklist to consider. As you go through your tasks you will get to experience that ultimate joy of checking them off one by one.

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career