When You Don't Know What To Do On A Project, Start Writing A List

When You Don't Know What to Do on a Project, Start Writing a List

It's no secret that Lifehacker reader and writers alike love to-do lists. Complex and abstract tasks don't always fit into this format, but the best first step might be to make a list anyway.

Photo by sunshinecity

As productivity writer Scott Berkun explains, lists help us get ideas out of our heads and into actionable formats. "Get a better job" is fairly abstract, but a few minutes of brainstorming can turn that into a list of steps pretty quickly. For example, that task could become:

  • Update resume.
  • Find job listings.
  • Reach out to friends in related fields.
  • Study skills necessary for a different job.

It's still daunting, but you now have some steps you can actually start working on. The simple act of making a list functions as both brainstorming and organisation. As Berkun explains:

We convinced ourselves we're so amazing that if we're stuck it must require a high powered and complex method to save us, but that's hubris. A well written list is the fastest way out of most problematic situations… Writing things down is powerful. When thoughts are written down you can move them around, compare them, combine them, or divide them as your thinking progresses. If you're working with others, lists force you to come up with a common language to describe tasks.

The mere act of holding a pen and putting it to paper can often be more than enough to get your creative juices flowing and your problem-solving gears grinding. Even if you don't know what it is you need to write down, just try to fill in a few bullet points and use that as a stepping stone to move on to the rest of your project.

When in Doubt, Make A List [Scott Berkun via 99u]


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