I love lists. Grocery lists especially, but really any kind of list will do. I enjoy the process of generating lists and crossing items off of them. When I complete something that was not on my list of to-do's, I scribble it in just so I can cross it off. It's not illegal in the list-making community. I have known others to do the same thing.
List-making is integral to getting things done both personally and professionally for me. The research I have been doing at work on productivity supports this notion. The main takeaway being I can only be as productive as my ability to identify, plan, and complete tasks. As anyone tackling a project ranging from planning a party to building a website can attest, complex concepts can be broken down into digestible chunks that are more easily acted upon. We chip away, slowly but surely, until crossing off small tasks in succession equates to the completion of a greater whole. Where to maintain these lists, though, makes all the difference.
While lists on scratch paper have never failed me, I needed something more robust to track to-do's and then complete them. My boss exposed me to Trello, a nifty application that allows you to manage projects in a space called a board. The boards are made of lists, and each list includes cards. Cards can move between lists by dragging. They can be categorized, reordered, and assigned due dates. While Trello wasn't the perfect fit for organizing my work place, work spilled over into my personal life and it got me thinking about the list: a list of goals.
Writing goals down makes them real, and makes me accountable for achieving them. Not to forget before I can write them, I have to filter through the elaborate maze in my head and identify them... I thought more realistically about it and came to the conclusion that if big changes are made of small tasks completed one after the other, I will just make a nice exhaustive list of the small stuff. The irony is one of my favorite reads of all time is "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff". A book of 100 useful tidbits for preventing small matters from taking over your life. But in this case, I want to be sweating the small stuff. Ah, the contradiction!! But as I said in this post, there is almost always a gray area. So, on to the small stuff.
I never really had concrete life goals. There were and are fundamental dreams I always hoped to come true, centered around family and contentment. Maslow's hierarchy with more embellishments. As for other spheres, I figured they would work themselves out. I took comfort in the notion that there was time in the abstract future to get it sorted. Having arrived at the great frontier that is young adulthood, I've had to take a new approach of making lists.
I've taken to storing my lists in Trello. I have a list of Sentiments- little reminders about the things I believe and want to believe even when my perspective unravels. I have a Life list which will likely grow as I go, but at least the thoughts are stored somewhere. And I have Short term to-do's that will ideally help me complete the items on the life list. Some items on this list are just random but just as important like get an oil change, or as my mom would say, "get a haircut". I have a list called Doing, and my favorite list, Done. I move the cards throughout the lists as I am actively working on them, and then once they are finally completed. The cards in the Done list give me a sense of pride, and the cards yet to be done keep me focused on the journey ahead.
While I will never abandon hand-written lists on dainty note paper, it's nice to know I have a backup.