Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a list. Indeed, I wrote a Passle a while back on the sheer joy that I, as many others, feel as I tick off key items on my office or home "to do lists".
Imagine my delight then on reading once again that lists aren't just a great way to remember what you need to do, but could also be positively life-changing in their impact.
"Seven ways making lists could change your life", on the BBC Radio 4 iPlayer page (below), is an article that naturally "lists" the numerous ways that ordering activity, itemising tasks and focusing effort is so beneficial to us in work and life.
The advantages of list-making aren't just the potentially obvious ones of de-cluttering the mind or prioritising jobs: according to the post, it can even make you more successful. Clinical psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson, for instance, who has done much work in the field of goal-setting, has established that humans are more likely to positively face and achieve their aims having clarified an end-goal and a attainable path of steps towards reaching it.
At Equinet, we have experienced the benefits of doing just that in embracing EOS - the enterpreneurial operating system - nearly two years ago, which has the setting of long-, medium- and short-term goals at its heart. It requires leaders, managers and the entire company to be clear about the plan of how to achieve those aims, a vital component of which is the list of weekly "to do" actions that constitute the incremental progress towards the company achieving its ambitions.
And, it's not just that step by step progress towards success that is advantageous in list-making. The post highlights also how vital a list can be in alleviating mistakes.
There is wisdom in itemising the key elements of any complex activity to ensure not only consistency of approach but also that no single part of the whole is missed. We're back to the humble checklist again, aren't we? There's probably no better or simpler tool for establishing clarity and avoiding errors.
And that leads me to my final point. As Agile marketers, we've embraced list-making in all its ordered yet practical glory.
We use Trello in order to organise weekly "sprints" of agile activity, capturing on our online noticeboards lists of tasks for our teams, arranged under the headings of "to do", "in progress" and "done". And in turn, each task card on those lists is defined by its own tried and tested checklist - the individual steps that need to be completed to fully achieve that task. A list within a list, if you will.
For us, such an approach has meant clarity of purpose, efficiency, collaboration and the flexibility to adapt quickly to changes in circumstance - in short, to be more agile.
To some, a list within a list, may sound like process gone mad, but I'm all for systemising if it means that the end result will be the one that you wanted to achieve, that you avoided mistakes along the way and that everyone else is able to understand how you got there.
Writing out all the tasks you need to get done can help you prioritise and plan, structure your thoughts, manage your time and break bigger projects down into more manageable steps. What’s more, taking that swirling mass of thoughts in your head and pinning them down can actually calm you down. ...Ever heard of the Zeigarnik Effect? This psychological principle states that our brains remember tasks we’ve left uncompleted better than things we’ve actually accomplished. As a consequence, when you’re trying to focus on something important you’ll often find yourself distracted by other unfinished business. Psychologists say you should write down all those nagging unfulfilled aims in a big long list so your brain knows they’re being dealt with, then you’ll be better able to concentrate on the task in hand.