Going Numb to Lists

If you’ve followed the course so far, you can’t have missed the encouragement to use lists that manage our commitments.

These lists can be managed in a variety of high or low tech solutions, covered in the Do It section.  

However, if there’s one thing guaranteed to make us fall off the wagon, it’s going numb to these lists.  It’s a drifting process, but we realise we haven’t checked them in a while, they’re no longer our trusted system and everything is back in our head.  

Pro Tip

Why our lists get longer

Long lists can happen for a few reasons:

  • We get better at capturing. Good capturing is a key part of the programme so this is a natural result. Don't stop capturing just to get shorter lists.

  • There are less people doing more work. The work hasn't disappeared; there are simply fewer colleagues to share it. Your lists will get longer. As an aside, the team should be even more ruthless with the IV Quadrants exercise.

  • You're the kind of person who can't say no. You want to be helpful, so more tasks appear on your list. That's fine if that's a conscious decision, but you might want to check out the article 7 Ways to Say No!
  • How can we stay in touch with our lists?

    Try one or more of the following:

    2-minute rule
    As simple as this sounds, it might be some tasks shouldn’t have made their way onto your lists at all.  Check the clarify chart – if you can do it in 2 minutes or less, do it now!
    Split your lists
    If you have a list that is overwhelming and you’re avoiding it, perhaps it’s time to divide it into 2 lists.  For example, rather than everything going on a @computer list, consider @creative and @braindead.
    You might have added a number of tasks to your list and on reflection, you actually haven’t truly committed to some of them yet.  As a result, every time you look at the list, you feel it’s filled with non-actionable items.  Consider moving a few of them back to the Someday/Maybe list (or whatever you name it).  As long as you do the Weekly Review, you won’t lose track of them, but they won’t be causing stress.
    This is similar to the suggestion above, but with less mercy.  Some tasks simply shouldn’t have made their way onto the lists in the first place.  Get rid of them and don’t feel guilty.
    Move some to the calendar
    This is the opposite of the above options – raise awareness and commitment to them by adding them to the calendar.  A word of warning though – don’t put them on the calendar and then still not do them.  Otherwise, you now lose trust in your lists and your calendar!
    Do 4 older tasks
    If all else fails, simply choosing 4 older but not too complicated tasks will quickly re-engage us with our lists.

    The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.

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