On the List

Sep 20, 2012

This summer, I spent a couple of days on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. During countless brief conversations with people from all over the world while peering over the edge or riding on the Maid of the Mist, I had two encounters with men who walked up beside me, looked out at the water and said the same thing:

“Well, mark it off the list.”

Obviously, they were referring to their “bucket list,” the mental (and sometimes actual) list many people have of things to do in their lifetime. A native Coloradan who had never really given Niagara Falls much thought until circumstances led me there in July, I decided I too would add it to my “list” and then mark it off.

“Honey-dos” notwithstanding, I’m a big fan of lists as a way to keep myself motivated and focused. Like many people, there’s a small celebration every time I can scratch something off a list of tasks at work or home (full disclosure: I prefer using a highlighter!), and just the process of writing something down brings that task into focus.

And it appears I’m not alone. At least one person featured in the October 2012 issue of Performance Business-Russell Stephens, president of MSD and Racepak-”agrees.

“I’m a list guy,” he says. “At the end of the day, before leaving work, I make a list of priorities so when I get in the next morning, I hit those and knock them out.”

Timothy Bednarz, a business author with Majorium Business Press, uses lists in his blog entries and books to define concepts and outline steps leaders can take to make their workplace more efficient and profitable. He explains that lists are a part of an organized thinking approach that can be used to accomplish big things by taking small steps.

“Managers as leaders use sound management and leadership principles to guide and direct their actions and activities. They know where they want to go and what specifically needs to be done in order to get there, and that each particular step needs to be carefully considered as to the consequences associated with specific actions and decisions,” he writes. “Managers as leaders are driven by a vision of what they want to accomplish. They always have their ‘eye on the prize’ and know just where they want to go and why.”

Tim’s impressive words show that with or without realizing it, shop owners and managers use lists to get projects completed, keep employees engaged and motivated, and ultimately measure success.

When you stop to think about them, lists are popping up everywhere-from funny lists on Facebook to the service lists garages use to show customers maintenance requirements. And who doesn’t love a good Top-10 list to start a friendly debate on almost any subject?

So take a moment to consider how using lists might make your business more organized and profitable. Then get to work scratching off accomplished tasks one by one.

I always have an extra highlighter!