Last year, I thoroughly discovered the power of the list. Being a CollegePlus student, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of what they call “Action Steps” (which that reminds me, I need to look at mine for this week again) and sometimes I like to make fun of them. However, I’ve been realizing over the last couple weeks that I implement “Action Steps” all the freaking time. This semester, I’ve had a whopping To-Do list every single day that I habitually write out before I start my day. Last semester, I started listing my goals (both long-term and short-term) and found that after doing so, my motivation levels shot straight up. Like nothing else I’ve ever found, lists provide a strong sense of direction. And as people in this day and age who usually have more goals than we probably admit, it’s important for us to have direction. Distraction lurks with every click. No lie.
There are three different kinds of lists that I find myself utilizing regularly.
The first one is a “Goal List”. If you’ve been around for a minute, you know that people are constantly talking about long-term and short-term goals. Well, I’m here to tell you, they are worth the hype, but only if you’re all in. I’ve tried making lists of goals and really only having my toe in the water. Don’t do that. Make the list when you’re ready to. Think about it and chew on your ideas. THEN write them down. They’ll go much further, trust me on that.
Alright, well these types of goals seem pretty self-explanatory, but in case you’re still confused, I’ll give you some examples. Long-term goals are super forgiving. Some of my long-term goals are to become a professional songwriter and work in that industry (but behind the scenes), start several successful businesses mostly non-profit for-profit type businesses with a strong online platform, become a stronger creative and learn better how to discipline creativity, and duh travel. Some of those are much more concrete than others, some are more developed, and some are just plain expected (like travel). Short-term goals are really where the magic starts happening. Some of mine include building my online audience using my blog, and social media, become a better photographer through resources online and studying other photographers, finish school, stay alive, and maybe even paint my nails finally (it’s the little things, right?). When you list off your goals, make your long-term goals first. Dream big! Seriously, you’ll never ever do something if you don’t think of it first. After you’ve successfully made a list of long-term goals spanning anywhere from 3 to 10 in number, make short term goals. If you have quite a few long-term goals (in that case, go you!), pick two or three and make short-term goals based on those.
What this has done for me: I keep these lists where I can see them, in a notebook I frequent often, hung up on a bulletin board, in a note on my computer, anywhere I’ll see them. As a student, World Religions doesn’t seem like it does much for my Marketing degree, but with my goals up where I can see, something that seems like a waste of time suddenly has more meaning. If it’s not in the content (which in a small way, it is), it’s in the 3 more credits that bring me that much closer to my Bachelor’s. I can’t wait to wake up the next morning and begin working on my new goals. Seriously, it’s magic (you knooooow).
Secondly, lists can do wonders for time management. I’m extremely unconventional in the fact that a meticulous daily schedule actually derails my day. I’ve had to do those for school and it just ruins my motivation and productivity. If you’re the same way, and a strict schedule actually stresses you out and makes you watch YouTube more, don’t be ashamed! Find ways to manage your time differently. I do this by making a list of tasks to accomplish every single day. I do this either the night before or in the morning before I start anything. Since I have so many ‘sections’ of my life, I usually make a To-Do list per section. For me that is School, Blog, CollegePlus Work, and Social Media. I sometimes throw in a Misc. section for tasks like cleaning the bathroom or going grocery shopping, or even something bigger, like applying for a school or a job. Above all of that, I list my daily devotions and working out, two things that I should always start my day with. But of course, I’m not perfect, it doesn’t happen as often as it should, let’s be honest. BUT I find I do it more often when it’s written on my list.
What this has done for me: Even if I have a page filled to overflowing with To-Do items, it gives me a place to start. I can still utilize a schedule and just schedule in blocks of time to be spent per section. Those moments when all I want to do is scroll through Facebook or watch YouTube, I have no excuse like, “I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start.” Everything I need to do is right in front of me. Nuff said.
Third (congratulations for getting here, by the way). I like making what I call “Creativity Lists”. I’ve done this a handful of times, and I really should do it more, honestly. A few months ago, I just filled a page with phrases and words that I thought would sound good in a song. I had reached a point where the songs just weren’t coming, no matter how hard I tried. As I looked at pictures to jog my creativity, my page of potential lyrics blossomed before my eyes. Multiple songs were born based on one single phrase, and some of my most challenging and artistic songs too! Yesterday, just on a whim, I did something similar and started listing random words. After about ten, I realized that every word I listed was some sort of theme in my life. I came up with 68 and if that doesn’t tell you how much I try to do, I don’t know what does. When I reviewed my list, I realized that I could probably write a blog post on every single word I had written. They may not all be super quality posts or even very interesting, but most of the blog posts that would actually work I would never have thought of without that Creativity List.
What this has done for me: All creatives have flow times and empty times. These lists are a life-saver during the empty times. It’s an exercise that is worth at least trying, and usually it only takes 10 minutes at the most! (If you don’t believe me, try it. See how long it takes you to write just ten words or phrases while scrolling through Pinterest.) (No really, I’m serious.)
These are just three of the ways that lists have had a powerful impact in my motivation, my productivity, and my life. Which ones do you use already? If you haven’t tried the Creativity List, try that if nothing else. It’s short and sweet and can make a huge difference in your inspiration boost!
And thanks for getting all the way to the end. Yes. Yes I did just write a 1200 word post on ‘lists’. Go me.