8 Lists every successful person needs to keep
Just as the captain of a ship uses radar to know what’s going on around his vessel we all need personal radar to keep a weather eye out for ourselves on our voyage through life. Making it work doesn’t have to be tough; eight simple lists will keep us on the right course, and bring order into your life…
Working life is like the old-fashioned variety act in which a man spins plates on sticks, dashing from one to the other to make sure they’re still spinning, and unlikely to fall off.
Every day is a round of tasks designed to keep our own personal plates spinning, devoting time to business and personal matters in often unequal measure. Everything we do ought to be important in its own way, but because of our sharp focus on the ‘everyday’, each weekday flashes by, and before we know where we are, another weekend arrives, bringing with it a revised set of priorities.
Stop! Bouncing from one task to the next in an unfocussed way will no doubt get the job done, but what’s happening to you in the meantime? Put some order and calm into your life with a set of just eight lists that will help you deal with today, see where you’re going, and what you’ve achieved to get where you are. Together they’ll simplify today and give you back that most under-rated element in business – perspective.
8 lists to support a busy life
1. Contacts: No man – or woman – is an island. Success is business and personal life is about knowing the right people who can help you at the right time, so a comprehensive list of contacts is vital. Perhaps it’s the name of a trustworthy plumber who’ll turn out at weekends and short notice, a good accountant, a garage that won’t find ‘unnecessary’ work on your car, or the name of a Maitre d’ at a restaurant in a city you don’t visit often. Knowing who they are, and having them know you, streamlines life and offers assurance about what you’re doing, and how you do it. Keep your contacts book up to date, and nurture it.
2. Business ambitions: Where do you want to be in three years from now? Or five? Or ten? It’s important to have that vision. Only by having a list of things you want to achieve in business will you know you’re doing the right things today to help you reach the right goals. Remind yourself of them regularly, and make sure that what you do today its taking you in the right direction for tomorrow. Failing to do so is the way to get stuck in a rut.
3. Money: We all need it. Many of us waste it, or miss opportunities to have it work for us. How we spend – or not – is a question of the right approach. The very first step in doing that direct is to understand what we spend and why we spend it. Use of a money management app like the free-to-download Solo Expenses is an excellent place to start.
4. Ideas: It doesn’t matter where the trigger comes from, but you’ll see something that appeals; something that works well, and might come in handy someday. Record it in an old-school notebook or in a modern way like Pinterest. When you’re stuck for an idea about something, go back to your list and check what you’ve recorded there to find the inspiration that frees your from your mental log-jam.
5. Books to read: You’re never too old to learn. Books by all sorts of successful people are there just begging to be read, and if you read them you can tap into a wealth of experience for the price of a paperback. What a fantastic bargain!
6. Things to learn: Sharpen your skills on everything at every opportunity. Do you know about cloud computing or why bees are important to the planet? Go find out! Inspiration for tasks in your daily life can come from the most unexpected places…
7. Bucket list: It’s become a cliche that no-one on their deathbed regretted having spent too little time in the office. ‘Now’ is the time to do something about making sure that doesn’t happen to you, but without listing your ambitions they may well slip through your fingers. So what’s on your bucket list? Learning to ride a unicycle? Going to the top of the Empire State Building? Speaking Mandarin? Flying somewhere (anywhere) First Class?
8. Successes: It’s easy to see yourself in the context of only the task in hand, and if that’s not going well, one can fall into the trap of undervaluing oneself. Don’t! Recall the things you have achieved. On a personal note look at some photographs. On a business note review the emails and ‘thank you’ letters you’ve been sent. Pause and think how your actions made you, and them, feel at the time. That can give you the spur you need to say to yourself: “I can do this, and I will.”List your life – and live it better.