Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

The Next Thing on the List

There is a weird resistance in my soul to list making.

Don’t misunderstand. List making is necessary. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done. List making is a critical part of productivity. Everyone should be making lists.

But resistance is strong for me on this one. I don’t know if it’s my arrogance to think I can keep all this stuff in my head. Or if it’s because I don’t want the personal accountability. Or, maybe, there something inside of me that doesn’t want to be bound to a list. I mean, there are a lot of other things I could be doing. Right?

I hear a lot of folks talk about this immense satisfaction they receive when ticking off completed items on a list. In fact, I know people who will include things they’ve already done on a list of things they yet need to do,for the satisfaction of crossing them out.

I do not find this same satisfaction.

But I’ve discovered this small rule which generally serves me well:

I must do the thing where I feel the most resistance.

A list is important for me  because it’s actually liberating. It gives me a bucket to contain water from the idea fountain. I can make the list and know that I must simply do the next thing. How I feel at the moment is irrelevant. More free-thinking will be counterproductive right now. Make a list. Get it done.

This works for small, daily tasks (buy toilet paper, write an email, fix the leaky faucet), as well as big life goals (write a novel, make a documentary film, visit Slovenia).

Make a list. Do the next thing on that list.

For folks like me who tend to be less linear, this is an excellent and necessary practice.

For those who make lists just to cross things off lists?

Practice being a little less linear.

Try a list-free-Friday where you work on whatever you feel like working on, without the tyranny of other to-dos? Will it be uncomfortable? Yep.

But who knows? Once you push past the resistance you may stumble onto something great.