Seraphim wrote in the comments on my artlcle The Minor Tasks List:
“Maybe what’s missing for me is the practical application. Can you maybe give a couple of examples of how destroying the lists helps keep your mind engaged and also develop better systems?”
Well, this website is a good example of how it works. Since I started using “no-list” principles, I’ve blogged every day without fail (something I’ve never managed in the past), and also advanced many other areas of my life. I’ve not done less and spent my time forgetting to do things. I’ve both done more and done it more reliably.
Blogging every day is not difficult providing you use the “no-list” methods - which are founded on the “questioning” principle in Secrets of Productive People. The same applies to almost anything else you want to do. I’m giving you an example of how to do blogging - but you can use the methods on any subject. For instance, my book shows how the principles worked in the lives of a scientist, an artist and an industrialist.
Of course it’s difficult to remember boring work that you’re not really interested in. The whole idea of Questioning is to get your mind interested, involved and creative.
So when starting a new project the first thing you need is to decide that you really want to do it.
How do you do that?
It’s easy if you use Questioning. You could ask yourself a question daily for about five days on the lines of “Which project do I really want to do most?”. You write five answers down and then shred the paper. Each day you do the same, and gradually an answer will emerge that fires your imagination. By the time the five days are up you will have your answer and you will probably already have started to get moving on it.
If the project is one that has been given to you by someone else, then your question might be “What are my five best ideas for advancing this?”
This project should now be alight in your mind. You’ll have no problem remembering to put it in your no-list system, whatever form of “no-list” you are using.
There are several things you now might do to advance the Blog Every Day project:
1. Identify subjects to write on.
2. Sort the mechanics of publishing a blog post.
3. Write the text
Identify Subjects to Write On
For identifying subjects to write on I use a Questioning method called the Accumulating List. Like all Questioning methods there’s nothing difficult or complicated about it. All you do is think of about five to ten possible subjects for blog posts and then spend a minute or two every day adding to the list. If any ideas come into your head at other times you can add them directly to the list. If you do this you will never be short of ideas for blog posts. Make sure you keep the list weeded of ideas which you come to realise are not going to work.
Sort the mechanics of publishing a blog post
There’s quite a lot more to a blog post than just coming up with an idea and writing about it. So this is an ideal subject for a Dynamic List. Write a fresh one every day until the items on the list solidify into a routine. At that stage you should be able to go through the routine without needing a list.
Your Dynamic List for writing a blog post might start something like this:
And finish off looking like this after some tasks have been done and others added:
Post link on Facebook
Categorize as Article
Check previous day’s article published ok
Chose next day’s subject
Write the text
To write the text I use another Questioning technique called Continuous Revision. Basically you first of all jot down a few ideas, then by a constant process of successive drafts you build the article up until it is the way you want it. In fact I wrote my entire book Secrets of Productive People using this technique. First I use an Accumulating List to gather ideas for chapters. Then I wrote a few notes for each chapter, revised these a couple of times and finally edited the entire book twice.
Remember it’s the principles that matter, not the precise method used. I have used many variations of no-list systems recently, but this has not affected the effectiveness of my work because these principles are remarkably robust.