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Getting Started, Getting Going

How you structure your day affects what you accomplish.

Yes,  I’m talking about lists.

You’d be amazed at how effective simple list-making can mean. I’m at the beginning of a big project that involves many separate documents to edited or written, organizing those documents into a coherent sequence and creating a calendar for the dissemination of that content.

I knew I’d done a lot of work. I knew more work needed to be done. I thought I had a good handle on how much I had handy. I realized, after writing a list what was sent to me, what I’d done, and what I needed to do, three things:

Not everything was were I thought I’d filed it

Not everything was done that I’d thought I’d done

Not everything was there that I needed.

Until I’d made a list, or an inventory, if you will, of what the project consisted of, I had made assumptions about my progress that proved to be false. I had accomplished a good amount, but not enough for me to be satisfied with how much I’d been able to do.

The list gave me context.

The list also gave me motivation.

And the list gave me something to work against, to check myself against, and to use to mark my progress. Even if you’re doing something you keep track of – the chapters you’re completing if you’re writing a book – it helps to list those chapters as part of your daily tasks.

On the days when I make a list of things to do, I get a lot of those tasks accomplished. On days when I somehow don’t make a list, I tend to overestimate how much I’ve done. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s that I’m ignorant of the quantity of my tasks at hand.

So I’ve begun making daily lists of things to do. And then I’ve been making spreadsheets – that dreaded term – of projects with which I’m involved.

Some people like making lists. Some people – I don’t know them, but they surely exist – like making spreadsheets. I’ve been a casual list-maker, and I’m a reluctant creator of spreadsheets. But both help me.

And I resolve to do more lists and keep better organized. I profit from that.

It’s on my to-do list for today.

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