Using a pocket notebook. - 4. The Listers

by Stuart Lennon

Listers. They have daily lists, to do lists, shopping lists, lists of lists.
There’s a lot to be said for a list.

1. Making a list. If we discount the actual output, ie the physical manifestation, the process of making a list is essentially a planning activity. Often, I write one at the start of my day, things that I want to get done. Sure, the list is handy as a reference tool, but often, I find that I complete it without ever looking at it. The act of making the list is the more important element than the manifestation.

2. Using a list. I have a podcast playing on my Mac. I’m typing on my iPad. My iPhone is to hand. There are D&D character sheets on my desk. Tellingly, my notebook is open to a list of tasks, the seventh of which is “Draft #pono4”. Despite all the distractions, the list keeps me “on task”, or at least close.

3. Crossing or ticking. Confession time. There have been occasions when I have sat with my notebook and written down tasks, not that I need to complete, but that I have ALREADY completed. Weird, huh? Why would anyone do such a thing? There are lots of reasons. It can be motivating. If I feel that I’m not getting anything done, this exercise helps me feel better. It also helps me gain momentum. I’m not sure there is any scientific basis for this, but ticking off/crossing out items gets addictive, compelling. Finally, revisiting a day list becomes and end of day review. This is a great way of closing down and subconsciously beginning the planning of the following day.

Outside of “to-do”, lists are superb tools for thinking. (Thanks @baronfig) List out vacations that you’d like to take, jobs that you want to do, experiences you would like, books you want to write - anything. The first step to achieving something is to get it on a list - or at least it is for me.

Any notebook will serve for a list notebook. some love graph paper for ready made boxes. Others love dot grid. There are some books specifically designed for lists - Word. Standard ruling is a bullet list.