What is a dynamic list and how does it work?
Like the no-list system itself, the dynamic list is intended to keep your brain actively involved and your creativity at high power.
There’s nothing at all difficult about dynamic lists. A dynamic list is just a list which you draw up of what needs doing for a specific project and which you add to as you think of new things to do. The tasks on the list can be done in any order.
You may be thinking to yourself, “There’s nothing new about that” - and you’d be right! However there are a few extra rules:
1) The list is drawn up fresh each day without referring to any previous lists.
2) At the end of the day, you feed the list through your shredder (or equivalent) and keep no copy.
3) The next day you draw up the list again from scratch.
To give you an example, at the moment I am working from a dynamic list which relates to the project/task “Blog”. This is the second time I’ve worked on “Blog” today (Friday).
When I started the Blog task earlier this morning I drew up a dynamic list which read:
Draft “Dynamic Lists”
Write “Trending this Week”
In my first “Blog” session I did a first draft of this article - which consisted only of the title, the publishing date/time (which I always do first so I have to finish the blog post or it’ll be the draft that gets published!), copied text from a comment I wrote earlier, and a few extra thoughts in rough. After that, I looked at the web stats and wrote Trending This Week from them. Finally I linked yesterday’s article to Facebook.
At that stage I decided I’d done enough for the time being. My Dynamic List now read:
Draft “Dynamic Lists” (re-entered)
Links in the Text (an extra task I added)
Now that I’m on my second visit I’m working on the draft again. It’ll probably take another two drafts before it’s ready for publication.
While drafting, I’ve added another couple of tasks - “Also see…” and “Check Chapter Number” (for the reference in the first paragraph of this article) :
So by the time I finished this session on “Blog” the list read:
Links in the Text
Check Chapter Number
Draft “Dynamic Lists” (re-entered)
(Later) On my third visit the list had expanded a bit because I’d added a few points I wanted to include in the article:
Fate of “Twitter?”
Solidified Dynamic Lists
Examine 3-T list for granularity
One of the advantages of Dynamic Lists is that you can add thoughts like this without gumming up the main list.
(Later) The day ends with only one task outstanding: “Twitter?”
You’ll notice that this task was on the list right at the beginning of the day so it’s survived the whole day without being actioned. This was because I was thinking of opening a Twitter account for this website but was unsure about it. I haven’t felt ready to do that today. It’ll be interesting to see if it makes it onto the list tomorrow. This may remind some of you of the questioning techniques in “Secrets”. You’re right - that’s exactly what it is.
At the end of the day before you shred your no-list, it’s worth having a look through it to check whether some of the tasks would be better off on a dynamic list. A good example of this would be communications tasks, such as Email, Comments, Facebook, Voicemail, etc. So rather than having to keep re-entering these individually on the no-list, you could have one task “Communications”.
A dynamic list used in this way may solidify into an unvarying routine. Once it has done that, you can just write the task “Communications” and do the whole routine from memory. Since good routines and systems are one of the basics of productivity according to “Secrets”, you can see how easy it is for the no-list to progress from questioning to system.
The basic idea behind a dynamic list is that you work off a list which remains fresh, relevant and above all creative - rather than off a huge depressing list of things which you haven’t got around to doing yet and which you are very likely never to get round to doing.
I use dynamic lists a lot and they are very effective. I very seldom forget things these days, and when I do it’s usually because I’ve deviated from the system for some reason.
A word of warning: You might be tempted to use a “dynamic list” for everything during the day. This doesn’t work. They need the tight boundaries of a specific project. However I do find it works to have a dynamic list called “Minor Tasks” for one-off tasks which are short enough to be done in one go. Of course this needs to be destroyed at the end of the day like any other dynamic list.