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To do, or not to do a list, that is the question

You know how some of us work best under pressure but always think “If only I had more time”? But even if we had more time would we really be any better at hitting those deadlines in a calm and orderly manner? After all, the majority of must-not-miss key dates, like tax returns, Christmas presents, birthday cards … come with a massive 12 months’ warning, yet thousands of us will, every single year, as regular as the clocks spring back or fall forward, wonder where the time disappeared to. Again.

You don’t need a brain the size of a planet to work out that if what you’ve got to do is a chore, it’s likely to be put off to the last minute, but ‘last minute’ and ‘tax returns’ is probably the worst coupling since ITV put Todd Carty and ice skates together. So why don’t we just get on with it? Well, plenty of people do and it’s called being organised; it could be learned but I believe it’s instinctive (and also really impressive) – they don’t have to think about doing their duty, it just happens, like packing their suitcase for the summer holiday with at least a week to spare, buying Christmas cards the year before and always knowing exactly where to look for the password that’s in a really really safe place.

Then there’s the rest of us. Running late or just making it, looking serene but with an invisible plume of stress squirting from our ears and armed with an impressive ‘to do’ list that never gets completely ‘done’. And there we have the problem; the list. Anyone looking at the list will know instantly that we’ve got all the bases covered, but the list is a very passive means of moving forward; it’s a series of actions, but what if only some of the actions get crossed off, what happens? Nothing. Clearly the list is not the man for the job. Someone told me how easy it is to confuse action with progress so this list that so many of us need or can’t start the day without, is keeping us busy, but not helping us to progress. Yesterday I was reminded that I hadn’t posted a blog since June. I cannot think for the life of me where July, August, September and this month have been hiding themselves; I was too busy to notice. But the blog is important to my business. It demonstrates that I have a voice, that I’m relevant and that I make time to look outside of my communications discipline to explore other areas of life. So there should never be a four month gap, but there is, and that’s not good.

From today I’m starting to keep a very different kind of list, although I have no idea what I’m going to call it, because now it’s going to be about achievements, it’s going to be about goals rather than activity and it’s going to be tougher to ignore, because the result of not striving to achieve will be far worse than the outcome of not crossing off ‘buy more copier paper’.

To find out how I fare with my new regime, see my November blog.

Posted in Brand values, Crisis management, Don't lose reputation, General, Honest broker | Leave a comment

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Edward Young