Stop thinking and start listing!

A simple thought today.  Lists are easy to consume, quick to compile in a rough form, easy on the eye, and a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

Notepad (photo by abeall)

Perhaps I should have said that lists are:

  • easy to consume;
  • quick to compile in a rough form;
  • easy on the eye;
  • a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

If you need to brainstorm, but can’t quite muster the storm part (or the brain part), try compiling a list of rough ideas/thoughts first of all.

I’m not talking about a wonderfully thought out to-do list.  This isn’t time to worry about what’s important either.  You needn’t number the list or think about an order of importance.

A simple list is just a way to get your mind wandering in a productive fashion.  Doesn’t matter what the focus, just list!  Don’t even think of it as work.  Just see where it takes you.

There is a well-known tip for conquering procrastination.  Take just 10 minutes of your time to start working on that project that you haven’t begun yet.  10 minutes is no time at all, so it’s pretty easy to commit to those 10 minutes.  Since starting is usually the hardest part of getting to work, you’ll have crossed that bridge and are likely to keep going for an extra 10 minutes.  And another 10 minutes.  And so on.

Combine the procrastination trick and list-writing with the aim to spur you on to greater thoughts.  It’s surprising how many ideas are suddenly unlocked from your mind just by drawing up a quick list when you’re working against the clock.

In the summer months away from campus, you’re probably thinking about what you want to do over this time.  Spend 10 minutes listing what you’d like to achieve and it’s a quick way to form a basic plan.  In no time, you have a major starting-point to work from.

Quick, give it a go!  It’ll give you an idea how this type of exercise could also help with your academic work.

Tomorrow, I will look at why an initial listing like this can work so well at engaging our deep thoughts and bringing out the best in us.


  1. I have always loved to-do lists and the 10-minute rule. That’s the only way I could get stuff done 😀

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