Never Do Anything Again Without a List

I have been thinking a lot lately about wasting time and how to stop doing it. I think that it might be me trying to make up for all the time I wasted in my life up until now. Thinking back to high school and college, I can’t believe how much time I wasted. I watched 9 whole seasons in a row of “Friends” in less than 2 weeks. Some people call that dedication but looking back, it was a huge waste of time.

Recently I have read a few books and blogs about productivity and wasting time which has made me extremely conscious of all the time I waste each day. To make myself even more conscious, I added a time trackers to my Firefox browser to record how much time I waste online.

One thing that I noticed that really helps become more productive is making lists of specific tasks that need to get done and then doing them one at a time. Writing the list organizes you instead of having a million things run around in your head. When you look at the list, you know exactly what to do, when to do it and about how long it will take you to do. Without the list, you can get overwhelmed by little tasks that will only take a few minutes each because when things are floating around in your head, you can’t see them clearly.

Even when doing something simple like packing for a vacation or weekend getaway, a list makes things much easier. Think about each activity you will do doing while you are away and mark down what you will need for that activity. Then look through the list and pack all the items you wrote down. Cross off each item as you pack it and you will never forget anything ever again. By making a list, it also gives you more time to add items that come up and also take off unrealistic items that you probably will not need.

One great piece of advice about lists is to write down the five most important things you need to do each day and then start doing them one at a time. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can increase your productivity by so much.

I wrote an article back in December about having too many options and getting nowhere because you can’t go everywhere. You need to pick one direction and just go full force. I compared it to hundreds of dollar bills falling out of a tall building’s window. There is no way you can catch them all but if you go for specific ones, it will be much easier to get them. The same goes for daily activities. If you don’t have a list, you will end up wasting so much time trying to figure out what to do that you may end up getting nothing done. At the same time, if you have an organized list, you can get everything done, one task at a time. Sort of like hundreds of dollar bills falling down one at a time. When you catch one, the next one will fall. Maybe I should have used hundred dollar bills in the example.

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