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It began many years ago when I was in college. To pay my way, I always had two or three part time jobs. Classes were every day, but these were just the beginning of the schedule.
If it's Tuesday afternoon, I'm working in the library's stacks. Thursday evenings, sweep the floors of the local drugstore. Every day, find the time to edit the student newspaper and study all those organic chemistry equations.
At some point, I began keeping a written list of things to be done. It was always with me. As I thought of things, I would jot them down on my list. As the list grew, I began another list--one for today and one for tomorrow.
I came to depend on my lists. I didn't have to clutter up my thinking by remembering all the things I had to do. I simply consulted my list, checking off those things done and adding additional items as they occurred to me.
Keeping a daily list organizes you. It frees up your thinking so you can concentrate on other things--like being creative, dreaming, planning, thinking through ideas. The daily grind is kept in strict perspective because it's on the list. Meeting schedules becomes a breeze.
Joining Corporate America after college, my daily list grew. It included items with a star beside some of them. These were the things important to the boss. They took priority over the others on the list. My desk was a mess, but my list organized me.
When I left Corporate America and set up my own business, that's when the list came to full maturity. Follow up with my last customer. Meet the banker. Update insurance coverage. Do some tax planning with my accountant. Order supplies. Interview a prospective employee. Take out the trash.
My daily list became a weekly list. A small business has many more things to be accomplished. Attend a networker on Wednesday. Meet a new client Friday for breakfast. Call three new suppliers and home in on one to deal with.
In business, the list becomes a record--the date you bought that new car, the date you applied for the loan, the date you looked at new space and signed the lease, the date you first talked with that new prospect. All these dates exist in papers you've collected, but your list pulls everything together in one place. These days you can maintain a list on that latest electronic device you carry around with you.
Retired now, I still do a daily list. Out of habit, I still do it on paper--I don't have to worry about a virus wiping everything out or a power breakdown. It is a useful habit, and I recommend it. Critical things to do today get done and checked off. I look at the list two or three times a day to make sure I'm on track. New items are added as they occur to me.
No matter how you do it, get the crap out of your head and onto a list. You'll then have more time to think about the important stuff. Free up some brain cells to dream about next year instead of increasing your stress trying to remember what has to be done today.
A daily list is a good way to collect information you'll need for your business plan. No mistake about it, you'll need a business plan--not just to support a loan request, but for the growth of your business.