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  • ILISE BENUN is the founder of Marketing Mentor, and has been teaching people to promote themselves and their services since 1988. Author of 4 books and many, many more articles, Ilise has been self-employed for all but three years of her working life.

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  • DEIDRE RIENZO is a copy writer who helps small business owners turn their ideas into words. She partners with web designers to create simple, compelling, and keyword-rich website content for their clients. The Marketing Mentor program is the driving force that has helped Deidre grow her business, and she blogs about her experiences, adventures, and struggles here at the Marketing Mix.

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12 posts categorized "Organizing"

August 31, 2007

All about lists, #3: Lists as (productive) playtime

This is the third in a series about lists: tools for making them, ways of making more useful—even using them as creative tools. Posted as inspiration strikes and time permits.

Long weekend coming up and to me, that means one thing: uninterrupted putter time!

I'll be attacking many non-urgent to-do items on various contextual lists, but I also plan to allow myself a few creative list-making opportunities.

Yes, I make lists the way some people do crosswords or sudoku—to keep my brain sharp. I mean, I do crosswords, too, but I confess to feeling guilty at only working my brain; I like working my brain and having something to show for it afterwards besides a filled out puzzle and (somewhat guilt-tinged) sense of accomplishment. Lists help keep my brain sharp and can, when plotted properly, provide a valuable public service.

Some Lists of Lists You Might Think of Tackling

These are helpful for everyone, and give your brain a fun, gentle stretch. For those who like to get double-duty out of stuff, they also make excellent blog posts!

  • favorite movies for a rainy day
  • favorite movies for Saturday
  • favorite "go-to" movies (IMDb is great for tracking these: here's mine
  • best experts on... (I wrote one on advice columnists)
  • to 10 tips on whatever it is you know about (I did one on newsletters)
  • top 100 books of all time
  • top time-saving tips you've learned in your life
  • five things you'd go back and tell your 20-year-old self
  • five things you'd tell someone starting out in your industry right now
  • best ways to use 5...10...15 (etc) minutes
  • top 10 blogs that people MUST read
  • etc.

The above lists do shed some insight onto your own psyche, which can be fun (and, yes, useful!) from a self-development standpoint. The potential lists below work that even harder. You can choose to externalize them or not. I provide links to my own lists that I've made public; people seem to find them entertaining at the least, occasionally illuminating at their best:

How about you—are you a closet/compulsive listmaker? What kinds of lists do you write to help keep your mind sharp and the world informed?

Let us know in the comments!

August 24, 2007

All about lists, #2: Taxonomy is everything

This is the second in a series about lists: tools for making them, ways of making more useful—even using them as creative tools. Check back tomorrow now and then for more list goodness.

In her (excellent) post about Ta-Da lists yesterday Monday, Ilise touched on the basics of what make lists such a valuable business/life tool. You can use them to quickly capture information, to organize your thoughts, even as Monkey Brain Reward—few things are more rewarding than checking stuff off a list.

She also shared her list of lists, which I found fascinating. I have many similar lists:

  • running lists of stuff I need to discuss with Ilise, my Toastmasters board, etc.
  • running lists of changes I want to make to my website, communicatrix-dot-com
  • a "bucket" list I use to unload all the flotsam that accumulates in my noggin, which I occasionally go through and sort/prune

The thing is, I have way too many lists to list, the way Ilise does. At least, not without risk of embarrassment at exposing my OCD tendencies. (If you don't believe me, click here for a screenshot—and be aware that I edited the list of lists for public consumption.)

Because I'm a compulsive listmaker, taxonomy—labeling everything in some kind of sensical way—has become crucial. And one of the best ways to structure the naming of your lists is to use context as the defining principle, as David Allen describes in his organizational program, Getting Things Done (or GTD, for short). A major part of the GTD system is learning how to carve up the things you need to do in terms of context to make them most convenient to attack.

So a GTD-er would have her to-do lists sorted by where or when she might do them; David Allen suggests sticking an "@" sign in front of the contextual lists, to keep them all grouped together neatly. So a typical list of to-do lists for someone who travels a lot might be:

  • @calls
  • @office
  • @home
  • @computer
  • @errands—home
  • @errands—anywhere

The beauty of the system is that it can be sliced and diced in any way that works for you, and tweaked as you go along to better reflect how (and where) you spend you time.

If you're new to GTD, Merlin Mann has a great primer on his blog 43folders.com here.

If you're curious about contexts specifically, Merlin has an excellent post on them here.

How do you carve up your lists?


The Tagline Series