Feeling Listless? Make a List!

Written By | Time Management | August 5th, 2011 | 25 Comments »

to do listPlan Every Day in Advance

Your mind, your ability to think, plan and decide, is your most powerful tool for overcoming procrastination and increasing your productivity. Your ability to set your goals, plan and take action on them determines the course of your life. The very act of thinking and planning unlocks your mental powers, triggers your creativity and increases your mental and physical energies.

Your ability to plan well, in advance of beginning, is a measure of your overall competence. The better the plan you have, the easier it is for you to overcome procrastination, to get started , and then to keep going.

One of your top goals at work should be for you to get the highest possible return on your investment of mental, emotional and physical energy. The good news is that every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. It only takes about ten or twelve minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you at least two hours (100-120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day.

When you consider how helpful planning can be in increasing your productivity and performance, it is amazing how few people practice it every single day. And planning is really quite simple to do. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. The most sophisticated Palm Pilot, computer program or time planner is based on the same principle. It is based on you sitting down and making a to do list of everything you have to do before you begin.

Make Your Lists a Habit

Always work from a list. When something new comes up, add it to the list before you do it. You can increase your productivity and output by 25% or more from the first day that you begin working consistently from a list.

Make out your list the night before, at the end of the workday. Move everything that you have not yet accomplished onto your list for the coming day and then add everything that you have to do the next day. When you make out your list the evening or the night before, your subconscious mind works on your list all night long while you sleep. Often you will wake up with great ideas and insights that you can use to get your job done faster and better than you had initially thought.

The more time you take to make written lists of everything you have to do, in advance, the more effective and efficient you will be.

Types of Lists

There are different lists that you need for different purposes. First, you should create a master list on which you write down everything you can think of that you want to do some time in the future. This is the place where you capture every idea that comes to or every new task or responsibility that comes up.  You can then sort out the items later.

Second, you should have a monthly list that you make up at the end of the month for the month ahead.  This may contain items transferred from your master list.

Third, you should have a weekly list where you plan your entire week in advance. This is a list that is under construction as you go through the current week.

Finally, you transfer items from your monthly and weekly lists onto your daily list. These are the specific activities that you are going to accomplish that day.

As you work through the day, tick off the items on your list as you complete them. This activity gives you a visual picture of accomplishment. It generates a feeling of success and forward motion.  Seeing yourself working progressively through your list motivates and energizes you. It raises your self-esteem and self-respect. Steady, visible progress propels you forward and helps you to overcome procrastination.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Feel free to share it with your friends and leave a comment below.

About Brian Tracy – Brian Tracy is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on google+, facebook, and twitter.

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25 Comments

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  1. 3eda.ir says on December 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm:

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  2. Mario Miranda says on February 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm:

    Brian, what a great post. Lists do make a great difference between been aimless or being focused. I’ve been a fan of yours since my sister recommended one of your books a few years ago. Funny, but when I’m reading your blog I can hear your gentle voice.
    Cheers, Mario

  3. Ella says on February 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm:

    I love your book Maximum Achievement. I have it and a few others. Thanks so much. My mental power increases with each win I put on my lifelong to-do list. I thank you SO much for your story and inspiration. God Bless!

  4. Kimberly S says on January 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm:

    Fantastic information …right on time.

  5. Adam Stevens says on January 30, 2012 at 9:54 am:

    Very good article, and let’s be honest – you very rarely find an unsuccessful person working from a list. You often use that phrase “and all the opposites are true..”
    Keep up the good work!

  6. Galina says on December 14, 2011 at 7:56 am:

    “Always work from a lis” – thank you, precious thought! It’s so easy!

  7. Allie says on November 3, 2011 at 4:35 am:

    I am glad to find this site. I have a challenge with procrastination and I am so happy to find help here. I am excite about the new me I will be building from the info provide here. Thank you

  8. DayTripper Diva says on October 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm:

    How can I get the personal assessment tool you mention early in your audio book (just started listening tonight)? Cheers, DTD

  9. Carlos Rosas says on September 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm:

    Your tips are always extremely useful and I share them with my students. This has jelped me make significant changes in my life, so I’m very grateful.

  10. Stephen Sapakbil says on September 12, 2011 at 3:01 am:

    This a powerful revelation.Infact Mr.Brian you are a blessing to mankind.I just love you.

  11. Tamara Kosaba says on September 11, 2011 at 9:43 am:

    Hi Brian,
    Thank you for your tips:)
    My Challenge is putting all the great ideas into action and completing the project. Anything that can help move through the actually steps would be great!

  12. Francis Chukwu says on September 2, 2011 at 10:37 am:

    Brian you have inspired me so much. thanks

  13. Christine says on August 25, 2011 at 1:54 am:

    Like the saying goes, “No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan.”

  14. Justin | Mazzastick says on August 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm:

    Hi Brian,
    I have been doing more mental preparation lately as opposed to always just “doing” and figuring out what to do along the way.

    This really does save time for me and also creates more productivity.

    I keep a notepad on my desk for scheduling and preparing my daily and weekly tasks and it works well for me.

  15. Lara Kulpa says on August 23, 2011 at 3:14 am:

    I’ve always been a fan of lists. My family laughs at me every time I go to Target or similar store because I’m always buying “fresh” notebooks and day planners. LOL

    My issue is that I can make the list out, but I don’t always do a great job of clearing it!

  16. Chris says on August 23, 2011 at 12:51 am:

    Listing things to be done don’t just increases productivity but also maximizes your time. Very useful.

  17. Babirye says on August 22, 2011 at 12:09 am:

    Brian’s ideas are very practical and exceedingly helpful. It is unfortunate that goal setting and planning are not given the priority they deserve at school. Thanks for sharing, Brian. This information will be very helpful to me and many others.

  18. Babirye says on August 20, 2011 at 3:11 am:

    Brian’s ideas are very practical and exceedingly helpful. It is unfortunate that goal setting and planning are not given the priority they deserve at school. Thanks for sharing, Brian. This information will be very helpful to me and many others.

  19. Treasure Ochojila says on August 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm:

    Great tips for a life time!

  20. Ayo Adebamowo says on August 16, 2011 at 11:43 am:

    I think Brian’s statement to the effect that “Your ability to set your goals, plan and take action on them determines the course of your life.” is simply golden and worth repeating again and again. In all honestly, beginning from this very night, I will put this particular action plan into immediate practice. I have procrastinated on this long enough. Thanks Brian for sharing.

  21. Mac says on August 14, 2011 at 6:15 am:

    Brian, good post.

    Having the discipline to plan out in advance your work day, week, year is critical to doing good business.

    Also the same approach applies in efforts to win more clients to do business with.

    Thanks for the timely reminder.

    Mac.

  22. Mark's Fat Burning Food and Fitness Blog says on August 9, 2011 at 8:10 am:

    This is very similar to the kind of lists we use for training and fat burning goals: Zig was saying it back then:
    Weight Loss and Goal Setting have a heck of a lot in common!
    You need to get organized: what to eat and when and how much, what to train, when and how much, all in conjunction with each other etc. I think you can really apply the same principles for business and personal life, too!
    Focus is the word, plan your work, work your plan!

    Mark

  23. Ryan Biddulph says on August 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm:

    Hi Brian,

    Super practical list building tips here.

    The note about your subconscious working on the list over night is awesome. Let the Universe do the heavy lifting.

    Write out your list at night, and if there is any tweaking to be done, the subconscious will handle it, and send you the appropriate changes through intuitive nudges in the morning.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    RB

  24. Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha says on August 7, 2011 at 6:40 am:

    Take action on your dream. Procrastination doesn’t pay.

  25. Muhammad Ali says on August 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm:

    Dear Brain Tracy

    I am a youth educator from Pakistan. I read you book ‘Goal:How to Get Everything you Want — Faster Than You Thought Possible!”. I found it very fruitful for personal/professional development. I used some of the ideas from the book during my session for youth. This post is also very practical one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and energy.

    Muhammad Ali
    Pakistan


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