Let’s talk about lists
I like to work fast and get things done in a logical sequence plus I sometimes forget a thing or two…that’s why I use lists. It’s very difficult to get things done fast, in a logical order without forgetting things.
For example, when I’m programming I make a list of everything that needs to be done, that way I don’t miss a step. The list also ensures that I get things done in the correct sequence and don’t forget something.
There are rules for making a good list.
The idea of making lists is very simple…we make a list of tasks we need to complete. What could be simpler! But, we need to make sure we are detailed and include even the small things.
Here’s an example.
Suppose I want to create a website, my initial broad list might look something like this:
- Think of a name; what will I call the website?
- Do a domain search to see if the domain names is available
- Register the domain name
- Get a hosting account
- Point the domain name to my hosting account
- Get A logo
- Install WordPress
- Find a theme
- Install Opt-in page plugins and salesletter plugin
- Create the products
My list would probably contain many more details but this is just a quick example for you. Many of these steps may sound like common sense, no-brainers but they all are things that need to get completed, no matter how obvious they are to you.
Make your list as detailed as possible, list all the things that need to be done in order to complete the project. Don’t leave anything out, not even the small things. Once you have everything listed make sure you have them in the correct chronological order. Go over the list and check it twice (sound familiar?) to make sure you have included everything.
Next go over the list and mark the items that you will personally do.
This is VERY important. By marking our tasks we are taking responsibility for them…but…are we doing that task because we are the best person for it or because we just want to do it?
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself, “am I the best person for this task?” If your answer is “yes” than leave it marked as “your” task.
If your answer is “no” then don’t do it; it will take you to long. You might need to learn a new skill or learn something new in order to complete the task. Go back to the list, with this in mind, and look very carefully at the task you’ve assigned to yourself.
Ok, you now have all tasks, that you’re best suited for, assigned to you. We now need to go over the list again and look at the tasks not assigned to you. We now ask the question, “if I’m not the best person, for this task, who is?” If you know who this person is, write the name down next to the step. At this stage you may even have one or two names next to a task.
If you don’t have a name in mind write down where you are going to go to find the correct person or service to complete the task. In many cases, the answer is to outsource the task.
We now have our list, it could include 50, 100, 200 or more tasks, and we’ve determined who will do the task or where to go to find someone to do the task.
The next step is to group the tasks into bundles of two, three or four tasks. This shouldn’t take long. We go through the list and divide the tasks into logical bundles or groups. Maybe tasks one, two and three logically go together so they would be one bundle. In some cases, a bundle may contain one task.
Make sure you put a completion date next to each bundle.
Just because tasks are put into bundles doesn’t mean you need to wait for one bundle to be completed before you start on the next. Remember you may have multiple people working on these so bundles may be worked on simultaneously.
You may even work on more than one bundles for those assigned to you because, for example, you may be waiting for something in bundle one…so you just go ahead and start working on bundle two. You want to make sure the project moves forward even if some aspects or tasks are held up.
Keep in mind that there may be holdups because, for some tasks, we are depending on other people. Other tasks can progress are we wait for those that are held up. The important thing is to have a realistic completion date and continue to work towards it.
Most people set up deadlines and completion dates with no rhyme or reason other than the fact they would like the project to be complete by a certain time. They have no clue as to what steps are required and how long the individual steps may take. They have no clue as to what’s involved.
I know how long it would take me to do each task but I realize that others may not progress at the same pace as me so I allow a bit of extra time in these outsourced tasks.
With the system I’ve just laid out you can come up with a very realistic completion date not an arbitrary “I want it done by…” date. You may want the project complete in 30 days but when you lay each step out you
may find that it’s going to realistically take 45 days…or, in some cases, maybe less than what you had thought.
It you plan on a 30-day completion and it takes 45 days, you become ticked off maybe even depressed… you may even be tempted to give up because it seems like it’s never going to get completed. Also by laying out this step-by-step schedule, you can tell in advance if it’s going to take longer. You are able to gauge, in real time, for hiccups and make the needed adjustments.
At this point most of the steps happen in my head…but I still write them down in a list. I look at the project and already know the steps needed and how long they should take. I may need to look for someone to do them but I know what needs to be done and how long it should take. This come from experience.
After you’ve utilized this “list concept” on a couple of projects you too will be able to quickly come up with realistic project steps in your head. But, I still highly recommend making the list just to make sure you haven’t overlooked something. Plus you can check off items on a list and have a visual indication of where the project stands and identify any glitches in real time.
This is especially important on longer and more complex projects. But when you’re just getting started you want to do this on every project no matter how small. You want it to become second nature.After all, even after all these years Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice!