As most people I have lists to help keep track of my work and personal life. The tough bit is I a little too often misplace my current list. So, I then start a new one. And then the old list tends to resurface after a while and I use both the new one and the old one.
Another aspects of my lists is that I pick any piece of loose paper I have handy. Never a note book.
Once I have my paper I write on any blank spot I can find. I start out like a normal list from top to bottom and then after a while I start scribbling anywhere. Sometimes even notes, like a phone number or an email address.
I've more or less always disliked my list habits and have several times tried to use them properly. But I always end up in my old pattern. This has caused some guilt to build over the years. I scorn myself for not being as productive as I could be. But guilt is a naughty and energy consuming feeling to harbor and I need to let it go.
So, I've decided to change perspective.
My new self-induced story is that I have a perfect list system – for me. And that when I look hard at the evidence I can see it works well with my preferred style of working and the nature of work I do. In my line of work I can't do things linearly. It's constant multi-tasking an over-extending. I allow myself to do stuff not on the list and have realized that my list isn't actually a todo-list.
It is a don't-forget-list.
Often I find myself crossing off lots of stuff at once, because things have been completed without checking the list. (That's when I normally misplace it, it can be days between list checks.) And in hindsight I can see I tend to do things in more or less the right priority.
But there is one important insight for me from this reflection on lists. Once I check my list, I always assess the whole list before choosing what to do. I never pick the next thing chronologically. I always chose what is most important to me at the specific point in time.
Working through my lists chronologically would never have put me in the place I am today.
And yes, I am where I want to be.
Check out the book getting things done, and then download an application such as ”things”, it works for iPhone aswell as mac and is a ”todo-system”. I easily got into using it, and it probably doubled my productivity!