Did you ever make a shopping list? I will guess yes. Why did you do it? Guessing again, so that you don’t forget something. Unfortunately most people don’t invest time on creating list for other tasks. How many times did you see yourself at the airport before taking a plane and thinking “I hope I don’t forget anything”. Right, what if you would have a list with, lets say, two columns, one for general things to get for a regular trip (ID, passport, credit cards, underwear…) and one column with specific things for that particular trip (notes to read before a meeting, presents, a liter of olive oil…).
I have found out via my professional life that having lists for ideas, things to remember as well as to do lists, help me creating a backup for my brain in order to make sure I don’t forget to contact that client, partner, pay that bill (or send that bill).
Lists makes my life cleaner and more organized, as well as it helps me to have my ideas in a place so that I can check them out sometime later.
I tend to write down things when I am talking to friends while they tell me about that movie I should watch, that book I should read or that album I should listen to. How many times did you hear about a book from a friend and you said “it sounds good, I should check it out” and later you think, how was the name of the book? or author?
As a social tip here I would say, it is important to keep track on things people advise you to check, maybe even if you don’t read the book, you can check it out later and in the next conversation you have something to talk about with this person as well as setting a strong point, you care about what this other person said.
Other list I keep always at hand is a presents list. Yes, every time you see something that might make a good present, or a good present for a specific person, you write it down on your list, so that when the time comes and you need to get a present you have things sorted out, how much time do you usually lose looking for presents?
In order to keep things organized I use a designated software to keep track on my lists, Things. Good thing with this software is that allows me to create projects, tasks, add metadata (I am also a sucker for metadata), add comments, and tick the tasks when the to do is done (it feels good to do so and it helps seeing that you are achieving goals). There are, of course, plenty of tools out there but this is the one I use and it works for me, it also helps to keep it synchronized with my iPhone and iPad, all my devices have my lists and I can keep updating them when I am on the go (very important).
I read a few months ago a post by Paul Boag where he talks about lists (5 Lists Every Website Owner Should Keep). He is totally right and the use of lists should be embraced by every person with a brain that tends to forget things (we all eventually get there).
So do yourself a favor, score some points in your social and professional life and start making lists.