Tuesday 12 December 2017

Are You a Noteworthy Listilla?

YOU'VE something you urgently need to do, but can't for the life of you remember what. Nor can you find the list you made earlier of the zillion things you immediately need to address. It's not going to help to get another piece of paper and begin a new list with, 'Essential I find missing list of all the things I need to do today!'

But you do because it gives you a couple of seconds relief from worrying about what you should be doing.

We women worry, but we're also often portrayed as slaves to fashion, prey to our emotions, suckers for sob stories and greedy for gossip.

It often feels the only compliment we get is that we're great multi-taskers. This is because other people benefit from our relentless 'doing'.

Beneficiaries include anyone who sits as we wallpaper inbetween writing a keynote address, or wrap up a fashion shoot while walking the baby.


Women who don't twist an ankle reaching for the wallpaper paste know this efficiency is dependent on lists.

Lists isolate a five-minute lunch break, between getting a promotion and organising a child's birthday party, and making the crucial decision that food one day past its sell-by-date is unlikely to kill.

Productivity coach David Allen now feels we're getting our lists wrong.

He believes we're in danger of consigning so many to-do things to paper and our lists are sending us into unproductive overdrive.

Before we paste Mr Allen to the outside East-facing back wall, let's take a deep breath and consider how he thinks we can change our lists for the better.

Respect the list

Acknowledge a list gives you more brain space to focus on the really important things in life.

"Our short-term memory can only retain seven to 10 items at a time, so of course you're not going to remember your immediate tasks without a list," says Allen.

A good list prioritises needs, and helps us feel in control, an elusive feeling -- yet one which still exists apparently.

"The list means you can use your mental energy to manage other parts of your life."

Justify your needs

Lists with just words -- like 'mum', 'holiday' or 'bills' don't help you get things done.

Don't be lazy and instead be specific about the steps you need to take to achieve Zen-like calm.

For example, 'Send flowers to mum' or 'Convince husband a fortnight in a caravan is not his best idea' or 'Stop tossing a coin to determine which bill most needs to be paid'.

Stop being a graphic designer

Pretty lists don't help you get things done any quicker.

"If you use blue markings for friends and green for colleagues, what happens when there is a crossover between the two?" Allen asks.

Plain lists work the best. "I don't use bullet points or numbers, just a well-defined action or project."

Ditch the dreams

Renovating the house, writing a novel and winning an Oscar -- the big aspirations in life take more than three actions to achieve, so dump them off your list. The same goes for losing three stone and convincing Brad that Angelina isn't good enough for him.


"The perfect to-do list is not one list but a set of lists," says Allen. It's one list for things to do at home, another list for stuff to organise at work, and another for having fun.

Join the A-listers

"You shouldn't keep rolling tasks over to the next day and the next, but that happens because daily to-do lists don't work," Allen says.

Instead have a priority list of must-dos and then put other items on a rolling B-list.

"If you get 10 minutes of free time at lunch, you can make a start on one of those less immediately crucial items," he advises.

Real life is no reason to list about

Says Allen: "Eighty per cent of my life is not on a list, but the 20pc that is allows me to engage with and enjoy the rest of my life properly."

For more information log onto www.davidco.com.

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