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050: The List Nazi

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I am a list Nazi. I’ve got a list and I stick to my list. If I lose my list, I’m screwed. 
That’s why I back up my list!

My list is my brain. You see, I am not inherently organized. I don’t always know what goes next.
However, when I see it on paper, it becomes very clear. And for me…it’s paper for sure. Sure my list can be backed up in a digital format, but I need it to be on paper for me to CROSS STUFF OFF.

My list is one of my secret weapons of success. Do you have a list? Does it work for you?

If not, the problem may be the mechanics of your list and how you use it.

See, you first have to have a master list—the big projects you need to complete. Then, from that you pull off a daily list of things you need to accomplish in order to chip away at the master list.

Then, when you get your daily list, you must prioritize it. Now here are some very important rules for using your list:

  1. Do the hardest thing first. Do not write “brush your teeth” then cross it off and feel accomplished.
  2. Put a time limit on each item on your list. If you don’t, you will never get through it. Unfinished tasks should go on your list for the next day. 
  3. Perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL: Do not cross things off the list before an actual task is completed!

Let’s elaborate on number three because it is a problem that 99.9 percent of people have and it drives me crazy.

You see I like people who work for me to keep a list too. Not everyone is used to it. Here is the biggest problem they have in using the list effectively.

Hypothetical scenario: I send an email to my assistant and say “schedule Jon Smith for a podcast interview.”

You see, scheduling Jon Smith for an interview is on my list. But here’s the thing…I can’t cross that off my list until I know the interview has been scheduled.

By giving that task to my assistant, this goes on her list as well.

In an ideal world, she makes contact with Jon Smith, schedules the interview, and crosses it off her list. She can then let me know with a quick note and I can cross it off on my list as well—mission accomplished.

But here is how it typically goes in most offices or hospitals or wherever you are trying to be productive. 

I send the request to my assistant to schedule the interview and cross it off my list. 

She then emails Jon Smith and requests an interview. Then she crosses it off her list as well.

Weeks later after randomly thinking about Jon Smith, I ask my assistant, “whatever happened with Jon Smith”? and she responds, “I sent the email two week ago but have not yet heard back.”

You see what’s happening? It’s a game of “hot potato”.

I’m often asked how I built my companies so quickly. The simple answer is: I have no tolerance for the hot potato game.

And if you want to 10X your productivity, you should tenaciously destroy the hot potato in your life and/or business as well.

When something goes on my list, I either OWN it or make sure someone else does.

To be frank, most people don’t like my anti-potato stance and they have to get used to it if they are to continue working for me.

But if they need to stick to the hot potato routine, they are better off working for the government which has the highest per capital concentration of hot potatoes in the world.

Trust me. Mash that potato and 10X your performance! You will create all sorts of wealth that you never thought possible.