Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Write It Down: 5 Ways Keeping Simple Lists Can Save Your Job!


If you’ve been out there like I have, then you’ll know getting a job isn’t the easiest thing in the world – there are a hundred guys and gals out there with similar skills and experience applying for the same job as you every time.

If you were successful at it, it’s probably because you were smart enough to do something different, creative, dynamic, inspiring, or even outright crazy.

Bearing that in mind, the last thing you want to do is lose your precious job on account of a sudden lack of productivity. Yeah, that.

[Related Article: For Project Leaders - How to Make the Most of Your Team]

Trust me; it happens to the best of us. Sometimes you just get bogged down with all the routine to the point where you start skipping out on important details or flat out start losing your creative focus while focusing on the routine. That’s the ‘routine trap’, and it’s bad for productivity – and could cost you your job. Let’s explore a highly effective strategy for avoiding routine pitfalls.

Avoiding the Routine Trap – Using Lists to Maintain Your Creative Focus

Most jobs have routine elements – things you need to do or accomplish daily or weekly as part of your core work process. These routine elements are the ‘bare minimum’ expected of you - the problem is that over time, many people accept this ‘bare minimum’ as the ‘norm’.

It sounds grim, but accepting routine work as the norm is really the beginning of failure in your career because your employers want you to improve the status quo with a creative and proactive approach – not just doing the same things they’ve been doing for ages. You have to try to stand out – but it’s hard to be creative with all that routine work weighing you down – and that’s where lists come in. 

Yes, lists. Simple lists are very powerful tools for increasing your productivity and staying creative (and employed!).

How? I’ll give you five ways:

1. Mental Assertion

When we work, we get ideas on the fly, and because of the fast pace of work, it’s easy to let them slip if we don’t write them down. You mentally assert your idea into being, literally by writing it down.

Mentally, writing something down is the first step towards achieving it – the first transition from concept to reality. Your next creative idea can be the one to get you your next promotion or keep you from getting fired – writing it down in a list may be your smartest career move yet! And it only takes a few minutes.

2. Making Connections

Human beings think visually. It’s easier to make connections between ideas when you can see them in one form or another. By writing your ideas, projects, and personal goals down in a list, you are laying the foundations for a more comprehensive and actionable plan to achieve those goals because it will be easier for you to see how each component relates to the other – and what you have to do to get it all working.

3. Goal Targeting

Lists allow you to analyze and develop your goals into actionable units. By simplifying your complex idea into a series of achievable items, lists help you formulate a creative roadmap for realizing your objectives. You can focus your idea and target your expectations using lists.

4. Goal Management

Use lists to manage your goals by indicating accomplished and pending items. This simple strategy is surprisingly very effective as a project management technique because you automatically know how far you’ve come with your idea, and what you still have to do – just by looking at your simple list.

5. Staying Focused

Finally, keeping lists will help you stay focused on your goal. A daily reminder that you’re 50% or 75% complete, for example, should egg you on to put in a little more effort to get the job done.

The psychology of simple lists is simply amazing – they put you in a good place mentally, give you greater control over your time, help you get organized and focused on your ideas, and allow you to be creative and resourceful – helping you avoid the ‘routine trap’ and improving your chances for success in your career.