How Lists Can Change Your Life

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Many people use lists to help them organize their life and make them more efficient. Others abhor lists saying that they take all the spontaneity out of life.

I believe in lists, and I use them a lot. It is one of the chief reasons I have been able to do more in the 8 hours I work today compared to the 12 I used to.
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Why they help
The value of lists is that they help you get a quick overview of what needs to be done. By writing a daily to do list, you can easily see everything you need to do and start working on them one point at a time.

The time you save on thinking about what else you need to do, the stress of not being sure if you are working on the most important thing and the feeling that you will never be finished, because you don’t know when that is, makes an immense difference.

It also helps you focus on a task single-mindedly. When you know that you will be working on all the tasks you need to do it brings a calm that helps you focus on the task you have chosen. If you have focused on one task with all your might you will have noticed how much more efficient you become.

A list of lists I think you should consider using:

1. Your to do list
Using this list is great for all the reasons I stated above. It is the number 1 time saver.

2. Your top 10 goals
Writing down your top 10 goals really helps you focus. I have used this technique with my students and all of them have felt that it helps them prioritize their days. They know what they need to do since they know what they want.

3. Shopping lists
I added this because I missed writing my own last week.
When I got to the store I realized I had no real idea of what I needed. I went through the store buying the things I usually do and anything that was on sale. When I got home I realized it had taken twice as long as it usually does and although I had bough a bunch of interesting things to try out, I had missed some of the things we really needed (like chicken!) and had to go back to the store to buy more.

4. Your weekly to do list
By planning by the week and not only by the day we save lots and lots of time.
It gives you the chance to see which days you have a lot of work and what days you have less. By moving tasks around you can find a better balance.
It also lets you group tasks letting you be more efficient.

One example is for a salesman. You can do all your prospecting Mondays, go on meetings Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and do all the administrative work on Fridays.

This way you can focus on one type of task all day making you as efficient as possible.
I have written more about this in the article “Living Out of Your Calender”

Spontaneity even though you have lists
What is great about lists is that they help you free up more time. This decreases your stress levels and gives you the chance to be more spontaneous.

I love being able to make decisions on short notice, deciding to take my wife out for a nice dinner or filling the apartment with flowers for her when she gets home and since I use lists I have the time and energy to do it.

Conclusion
I am a big fan of lists, it helps me stream line work, plan my days, weeks, years and focus on my goals.
If you haven’t tried using lists, give it a shot. Try it out for 1 week and see if it has made a difference.

Action Excises
1. Make a list of everything you need to do during the next 7 days.
2. Plan what you are going to do day 1, day 2 and so on.
3. Each morning make a list of everything that needs to be done during the day. Prioritize the list and start working on task number one.
4. At the end of the week ask yourself if it made a difference and remember the more times you do this exercise the better you will become at it making you even more efficient.

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Photo Credit: ξωαŋ ThΦt

                                                                                                                          

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  4. How to Double Your Salary Without Working Harder – Just Smarter
  5. The 8 Step Guide to Creating a Good Weekly Plan
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2 Responses to How Lists Can Change Your Life

  1. No doubt Daniel, reading your blog now for a year has helped me with my list approach. Heck, I’m starting to think you’re a ‘list guru’. ;-)

    I very much believe what you say here though: One can be very organized and have a list but at the same time follow whims and spontaneity.

    Good stuff bro.

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Marcus,
      I do not know about ‘list guru’ but I am an advocate ;)
      Using lists has really helped me and I am glad they are making a difference for you as well my friend.

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