There are many ways to organize lists, and there are only a few that seem to be “required” because they serve a particular and unique function:
- Next Activity List: a list of all items that are ready to be executed immediately, and are on the list waiting for a scheduled time to be used.
- Someday List: a list of all items for which there is an interest in executing someday, but not immediately.
- Waiting For List: a list of all items that are awaiting some critical input before being executed.
- Thinking About List: a list of all items that are being thought about, but not acted on.
The user must develop a strategy for reviewing these items – some more frequently than others. Each person’s approach to these lists will be different, but their importance lies in the fact that they each play a different but important role in managing time demands.
Other kinds of lists that are variations of the Next Activity List can also be arranged according to different criteria:
- a Meeting List – items to be discussed in various meetings
- a Conversation List – items to be brought up in the next conversation with an individual
- a Location List – items to be looked at when in the Office, At Home, At Church etc.
- a Daily List – items to be scheduled on particular dates in the future
- a Browse List – items to be browsed on the internet
- a Shopping List – items to be purchased
- a Call List – people to call
- a Vacation List – stuff to do on vacation
- a Project List – a list of activities to be done on a project
The list of Lists can be an endless one!
The danger of lists is that they can easily grow to be unmanageable, and when they get to that point, they are impossible to work with. At this point, the user can start feeling guilty about, tired of, or overwhelmed by the contents on the list.
Each list is best managed with a limit – a number of items beyond which it should not grow. The only exception to this rule is the Someday List, which some users are comfortable allowing to grow as large as their imagination will permit.
These lists must be used on conjunction with the calendar in a careful balance. When the lists get so large that they are not being used, there is a problem, and where they are not being used at all, that creates a different problem.