Monday, August 10, 2009

Think Lists are Boring?

Think again!

Daryl Furuyama at WhiteHatBlackBox has created a fun way to keep track of your to-do lists by making a game of it.  Each task is represented by a Space Invaders icon which you can gleefully shoot down and take as a trophy once you've accomplish them.  These trophy are then taken off the current to-do list which helps to remove the clutter.  I can imagine that this would be a great tool to teach kids on how to become organized.  Rather than doling out stickers or keeping track of stars, tasks around the house could be given in the form of a different invader that needs to be captured.  What the prize is at the end is completely up to you!

This program is free for downloading at WhiteHatBlackBox.  

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Bucket List

Last week, we watched The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who are on a quest to experience everything on their list before they "kick the bucket" from their diagnosed illnesses.  I can't say I relate to most of the items on their list (much of it skewed for those with much more testosterone), but I like the concept of having the hope of experiencing something extraordinary before I die.  Compared to most people, I've already lived an extraordinary life - traveled much of the world, had many various careers, have a wonderful family and close friends, come to know Christ.  But like Morgan Freeman, I have anticipation and hope for something more.  Below is my modification of the bucket list.

1.    Witness something truly majestic   

2.    Help a complete stranger for the common good

3.    Laugh till I cry

4.    Drive a Shelby Mustang  --> Take my son, Gabriel, to Disneyland

5.    Kiss the most beautiful girl in the world -->  Retire and take care of my grandkids like my mom is helping me do today with Gabriel

6.    Get a tattoo --> Get a makeover and go to a black and white ball 

7.    Skydiving -->  Take an Alaskan cruise in the summer

8.    Visit Stonehenge <-- I've done this one!

9.    Spend a week at the Louvre  <-- DIdn't spend a week but have gone to the Louvre

10. See Rome  <-- Have done this one

11. Dinner at La Chevre d'Or <--  Cook a seven course gourmet meal

12. See the Pyramids  <-- Why not all seven wonders of the world? or those that are left.

13. Get back in touch (previously "Hunt the big cat", added after being earlier added and crossed off)  <-- Simplify my life and live in a house where the living room french doors open to a bubbling brook tucked away in a forest

14. Visit Taj Mahal, India

15. Hong Kong <-- came so close in Singapore

16. Victoria Falls

17. Serengeti

18. Ride the Great Wall of China

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why I Love Making Lists

Lindon Weeks in his NPR article, 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists , rolls his virtual eyes at the proliferation of lists in media and social outlets. Ironically, he himself makes a list for why we love making lists.

Lindon's top 10 Reasons include:
1. Lists bring order to chaos
2. Lists help us remember things
3. Most lists are finite
4. Lists can be meaningful
5. Lists can be as long or as short as necessary
6. Making lists can help make you famous.
7. The word "list" can be tracked back to William Shakespeare
8. Lists relieve stress and focus the mind
9. Lists can force people to say revealing things
10. Lists can keep us from procrastinating

I would agree with #1, 2, 8, and 10. But #4, 5, 7 are not really reasons why we make lists but rather are just characteristics of lists.

To add three more reasons of my own:
1. Lists help us be more efficient in accomplishing our tasks - as they say with the 5 P's - Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Lists are all about planning - why I should buy, my meeting agendas, project timelines. Similar to #8, but being more efficient doesn't necessary help to relieve all your stress because you might just end up with a longer list once you figure out you can accomplish more with less.
2. Lists help us reflect and in reflecting, allows us to learn more about ourselves - Lists such as things that matter to us or what we are thankful for helps us not to lose sight of what is important in life. At the end of the day, does crossing off the last to-do item matter more than setting aside those tasks for more time with family and friends?
3. Lists help with coordination - the online packing list that I used for our trip to Singapore allowed my husband to pack some items for me and allowed my sister to comment on items that she already had that I didn't need to pack. At work, on-line lists help coordinate and track cross-functional action items.

What do all these reasons have in common? I believe that lists can improve our quality of life. Since our time is one of our most valuable resources, lists enables us to live with a sense of purpose - applying ourselves in a way where we can make the most impact. Efficiently working through the mundane/necessary tasks and freeing ourselves to do what we want to do.

How about you? Why do you make lists?

Monday, August 3, 2009

To Do Lists vs. Checklists

Are To-Do Lists different than Checklists? While it might seem a bit nuanced, the distinction is a "To-Do" list is future action oriented while a checklist may or may not be. I can have a checklist for the grocery store, for work, for travel or I can have a checklist of what I have already accomplished in life or a checklist of quality traits that I want in products or in someone I'd like to hire. "To Do" suggests that whatever is on your list is something you have yet "to do" which sometimes takes the form of a schedule or a list of tasks.

In 2007, Neal Conan from NPR conducted an interview with Sasha Cagen, the author of To Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Two things struck me from the interview - 1. how many people still keep their lists on paper even though there is a plethora of technology to help us keep our notes organized and 2. why 30 seems to be the age where many people feel like you need to have achieved a certain level of success to "justify your existence." Made my wonder what would be on my list? When I was straight out of college, I did make a list of what I wanted to do before I die and "milk a cow" was on that list - perhaps I was running out of ideas.

Sasha's blog now turned full website solicited new handwritten to-do lists. Why handwritten? Because perhaps more important than the list itself is how your organize your thoughts, your handwriting, and how you express yourself through colors, images, etc. I selected a random page (below) from my personal notebook. Though black and white, the ink was actually purple with "actual" activities in red. Some these entries are one word triggers. Looking back, I'm amazed at how life was so much "busier" before my son was born.