Penelope Trunk on Writing Lists

(I’m packing to go to Las Vegas for two days and then Chicago for almost three days so I asked some friends to fill in for me while I’m gone (can you tell? Scott Allen was yesterday…) today’s post is by Penelope Trunk, author, blogger, columnist and a really, really cool person – Thanks a ton Penelope!)

Penelope Trunk is the Brazen CareeristI am a list writer. I do it by hand. Every day. Sometimes three or four times a day, if I’m feeling really overwhelmed.

Lists are a great way to force yourself to prioritize your life. When you read lists of why people fail, it’s clear that writing a list of goals every day will make your more successful at reaching them.

But a lot of days, I think the motivator for me is not being a successful person. I just like the act of writing the list. I do it every morning, before I start work. And it’s calming, like a meditation.

It also helps me to see my day — and when I write big goals, my life. There is a discipline that comes with rewriting every morning. You know those things that you keep on your list forever but never get to? You face reality much sooner if you rewrite by hand. The repetition of rewriting something that will never happen starts to get to you. You leave it off.

I am not alone in the idea of writing by hand to gain focus. Dave Wirtschafter, president of William Morris Agency said in an interview in Fortune magazine: “I believe in writing down anything important by hand. I don’t now whether it’s staring at the piece of paper or the physical exercise of moving the pen. Whatever it is, the information seems to really stay in my head and make me more focused.”

If you don’t do this, I recommend that you give it a try. Get rid of your electronic list for a week and see what happens. Henriette Klauser says that if you write down what you want the commitment you give to the writing of the goal will actually help you commit to making the goal come true. I think there’s some truth to that. And maybe you should check out her book, Write It Down, Make it Happen.

But maybe what you should do is just buy some good paper and good pens. I like to use notebooks of graph paper. I think the boxes make me feel more organized than just horizontal lines. And I use pens that ooze ink. You can’t underestimate the importance of feeling the pen sail on the paper.

Don’t tell me you’re too busy. The mere act of devoting time each day to your list is an acknowledgment of the importance of your prioritizing, goal-setting, and focus in your life.

Go check out Penelope’s blog, it is one of my favorites and she has thousands of fans (because her stuff is worth reading – if you don’t follow her you should).

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