Beyond the To Do List

Most successful business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives have well defined goals and almost universally keep their ‘to do’ list and calendar updated to the latest vital task. However, I’ve noticed that the top 2% of peak performers also maintain the following four lists: a stop list, a meet list, a gratitude list, and a ‘what if’ life.

  1. A Stop List is a short list of activities that one realize waste too much time and provide little real value. Some common stop list items include watching television, surfing the internet, or spending too much time on a low value hobby. Sometimes a stop list item is something related to more potential destructive behavior, such as gambling or smoking. Finally, sometimes stop lists include stopping to spend time with certain people where the relationship produces nothing but negative results.Unlike a Task List or Project List, a Stop List should only include 1-3 items. And then, one focuses on changing only one behavior at a time. Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than a few weeks to change a behavior. I recommend one really not consider an old behavior erased until one has ceased during it for at least 12 weeks. For example, if one decided to stop watching television after work, I would not consider this behavior as being replaced until it has been achieved without interruption for 84 to 90 days (and sometimes longer). Only then would I consider moving to the next item on the Stop List.
  2. The Meet List can be constructed various ways; however, the most common way to think of the 100 people that you would like to meet and write their names down. This could include celebrities, leaders in your industry, politicians, even the new neighbors down the block. It is ANYONE that you would like to meet. Then look over the list and circle to top ten people. These are the individuals that you will work to meet over the next 12 months.Thanks to phenomenon such as six degrees of separation and many tools on the internet, it is easier to find, contact, and meet people in the 21st century than ever before in history.
  3. Several scientific studies have suggest that a Gratitude List can really improve your life, including improved sleep, being more relaxed, less stressed, less envious, and experience higher empathy, as well increase one’s overall happiness and life satisfaction.The idea is to take 30 minutes and write down everything you are thankful for in your life and record them, then review the list every week and to continually expand on it as you recall more reasons to be thankful. Include on it all your experiences, relationships, opportunities, possessions, and sometimes, even your mistakes and failures (as they typically led to something better).
  4. Finally, a What If? List is often on a single topic and then broken down into open ended question list and then at a later time, answers are provided for each question. This is used consider possible ways to improve or transform something, be it your life, your business, or the entire world.Below is an example of the first phase of a What If? List for a business? Phase 1 would be ask the questions. Phase 2 would be to consider the potential answers. Phase 3 is to take the best answers from the list and see if they are really feasible and practical in the real world.What If List: Ways to Double ProfitsWhat if we offered more products?
    What if we offered less products, but better tailored them for the market place?
    What if we targeted a totally different group of customers?
    What if we reduced the product costs?
    What if we increased the price?
    What if we improved the margins?
    What if we included an upsell?
    What if we offered deluxe versions?
    What if we hired better salesperson?
    What if we moved into international markets?

If you are not using some or all of four these lists, I suggest you at least try them for 30 days and see if you do not agree these are excellent tools for top performers.