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  • Diana Schneidman

Writing lists . . . let me count the ways

While Santa is the most famous list-maker, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s is a close second . . . and her lists are surely more sublime:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . .

Most of us do not write our to-do lists as poetic odes, but there are other ways to write lists that can direct our business tasks or even calm our minds. Here are six suggestions:

  1. Today’s to-do list. This one’s rather self-explanatory. The shorter it is—and the more precise each item—the greater the likelihood of completing it by midnight.

  2. Did-it list. Isn’t this a cool idea? Though I must admit I’ve never written such a list myself. This is a wonderful way to pat yourself on the back for all you have accomplished. I simply must put this on my to-do list! (The idea comes from Michael Neill, who notes that the purpose is to notice progress.)

  3. Thankful list. Some people write this list daily, others list 100 items at a single sitting. The purpose is to acknowledge all the people and events that make your life so good.

  4. The someday-I’ll-do-it list. Here’s where you jot down great ideas you may wish to implement in the future. I have a Word file going for my business and my list is nearly at 100 items. Some of the ideas are big, like writing a book, and others are small, such as specific website directories to which I may submit my website domain. Lots of the list elements are Bright Shiny Objects that may not justify the time or money required. The value in this list is to capture ideas as they pass through my brain so I don’t have to consciously file them in my limited memory bank.

  5. 100 things I want to do (or buy). I am deficient here. The money mindset gang says we should think big and quickly write big lists, but I don’t have so many material goals. My biggest spending addiction is magazines—I love all types, from Rolling Stone to Archaeology and New Yorker. Hardly motivates me to pursue extreme wealth.

  6. Get Clients Now list. GCN provides templates to plan your marketing efforts. In this program you select 10 activities you will implement each day over the month-long program and you note your success on each of the activities daily. A terrific program if you want to focus on getting your marketing tasks done. (By the way, I’ll be leading a live seminar series in the Naperville IL area in a few weeks. Email me now if you may be interested.)

And then there are the most compulsive lists of all, the sublists of to-do lists where I break the big items into steps. I think these sublists are a sign of too much stress and fortunately, it’s been awhile since I’ve made them. Self-employment really agrees with me in this respect.

Originally posted 9-19-10

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