As work relentlessly gets democratized, it’s hard for people to get formal training that was once consolidated within large industrial companies. The internet does continually grow with knowledge and content and this should suffice to educate everyone. But it’s hard to make sense of all the information or put it into strategies that make an impact.
Knowledge work demands that we move information and make decisions quickly. While everyone is not officially titled as an executive, we have to make decisions efficiently.
There’s a lot written on creating big visions, mission statements and developing strategies. But there is something even more foundational that should be part of any good executive’s daily ritual. It is a critical daily habit that allows for extreme leverage across projects. It is the habit of list management.
Managing Across Your Lists
Think about how many logins you have. You have a login for your email. You have plenty for your social media accounts. One for your bank accounts, accounting systems, client management databases and the list goes on.
Ultimately, these are all lists. And they are data dashboards to keep you informed of what matters in your world.
When you look at your email, it’s essentially a list. Learning to manage that list will move communications and decisions along. You can become extremely quick and free with a ZeroInbox approach to this list. It’s a core list you have to stay within.
Then there is your daily task list. You need a quick capture of anything that comes your way and check things off quickly and efficiently. I use Google Tasks heavily and manage my Today List this way.
If you are managing cash, then you need to look at your accounts receivables and payables. Put those into meaningful lists with due dates and follow up. Make it actionable.
Your calendar is a list that requires moving intentional engagements within finite time slots. Manage it well and you can get a lot accomplished in a week by being focused with your choices of time.
A lot of the above lists are around data and tasks. Those tasks break out into various lists for actions and next steps. Most of what we do is define what has to be done and put it in the right list.
We also have to manage relationships. Building and maintaining relationships doesn’t just happen on its own. You have to work hard to create the opportunities and life you want. Everyone is busy and they are better at reacting than driving.
So, it’s important to organizes your list of Contacts in your address book or CRM. Then review those lists regularly and move towards communications – emails, texts, social posts, etc. – to follow up with relationships that matter to you.
If you wrote a list of all the lists you manage, you might find that it could end up being 10-20 places. This is not uncommon. But, your world revolves around your ability to keep those lists organized, current and moving.
If you can get rid of or consolidate lists, you lower your own management commitments.
Every morning, check your lists. Make it a daily habit. Spend that 30 minutes to send, post and comment within the lists you need to participate. Don’t skip a day and be relentless. And always be pruning.
If you are talented, then doing the work is less of an issue than knowing what work to focus on. List management is core to executive productivity and getting your big goals accomplished with consistency over time.
So what lists do you manage?