I like lists. A lot. And the older I get, the more people I meet who also like lists. Does this mean it’s becoming a craze, or is it an age thing? Who knows. But as I see it, people like lists for different reasons.
Take my boss, for example. She hates lists but runs her life by them. She doesn’t religiously tick things off, but she writes lists when her head gets overwhelmed with ‘stuff’ – it helps her feel in control again. So she writes her list… then throws it in a drawer somewhere. I think that’s crazy but, for her, it works a treat.
Then there’s my friend Agnes – she has lists coming out of her ears. But she’s a Green Belt project manager, so it kind of goes with the turf. But if something’s not on her list, she needs to quantify why, question whether it should be on the list at all, and go through change control before it gets a look in.
For me, I write lists because I like to be busy and productive. I need to know exactly what I have to do as I’m prone to distraction – also known as avoidance tactics – I’m one of those people who gets home from an hour in Tesco to find I’ve forgotten the loo roll. I like being extremely busy (no really, I do!) so I get great satisfaction out of crossing things off my lists. I even add things to the bottom, which I’ve already done, then put a line straight through them. Crazy? Probably! But at the end of the day, I’ll look at my list and feel good about how productive I’ve been (rather than feeling like a busy fool who hasn’t stopped all day, but still has a full list of jobs).
This said, over the past few weeks/months, I’m finding myself less inclined towards lists. I write them, sure, but use them differently. Before, I’d write a list of jobs at home, including some items which needed subsequent lists. For instance, my main list would say “Plan Budapest” then my “Budapest” lists would include things like Logistics, Pack, Currency etc (and yes, packing often has a third level list of its own…) But last night, after having “Plan Budapest” on the list for a few weeks now, I finally decided to tackle it.
This took me 30 minutes and consisted of booking parking at Stansted, checking the weather foreacst and planning a date in my diary for when I’d look at packing.
So does this consitute productivity? Who cares, I’ve finally ticked “Plan Budapest” off my list and am now starting to get a little bit excited about my next Grand Prix!
That’s one light on Charlie Whiting!!