As a self-proclaimed "life balance strategist" I am constantly impressed by and learning from others. I've started keeping categorized lists of "takeaways." Key messages gleaned from people, books, podcasts, et cetera, recorded in concise bullets. I prefer the Notes feature in Outlook, but have found that a pen and a napkin works just as well in a pinch.
Great "ah ha" moments often come when I am driving, so I have also been known to record bullets verbally into my (very) old BlackBerry Pearl and then send the .wav message to my own email.
Before I discovered the voice recorder on my phone, I used grocery list repetition to remember all that "smart stuff." You may have seen that kid on Sesame Street repeating over and over, "a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter.... a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter..."
Unfortunately, I'm more like the other kid who starts remembering "loaf of bread" but then struggles to keep the initial thought bubble alive as distractions are presented. Life being more complex than a new doll, a baseball game or a fire truck, I find it increasingly difficult to remember lists in my head. Even harder as I (and my hormones) get older.
Still, bullets are easier to remember than entire books or conversations.
Bullets also come in handy when trying to remember jokes. I love jokes. I've got a million of 'em. *Badoom-pah* Unfortunately, I can only remember a dozen or so and only those because I have a bulleted "joke list" in my wallet at all times. Yes, really.
Particularly when I was traveling to conferences every other week, my joke list came in handy. (Lots of fresh
More prepared than a boy scout, I feel well-equipped to rescue folks from such conversational perils as, "I heard a really funny joke. Um... I think it was about a cow? No -- a horse. And um, the horse says... something... to the bartender. And then... Gosh. How does it go again? Anyway, it was so funny. Yeah."
My "original" joke list was just a little Garfield sticky note inscribed with the caption also seen in the attached graphic. In tiny, faded script were quick reminders of familiar comedic pleasantries:
- three men desert
- sheep joke
- three wishes
- construction workers
- "our daily chicken"
- mountain man
... - etc...
Having a handy joke list somehow provides confidence in memory and delivery, not to mention the ability to imitate multiple foreign accents. ('Tho someone once told me that all my accents sound vaguely Irish. Whatever.)
Several years ago, my car was broken into; windows smashed and contents emptied. The thieves made off with several important items, including my briefcase which happened to have my wallet (and list) inside. The running joke is that my husband arranged the whole thing as a "hit" on my little list to avoid a lifetime of suffering my old jokes. Sadly for him, the bulleted note was easily recreated, sans Garfield. Almost a decade later, my poor hubby has heard -genie in bar so often, he involuntarily mouths the punchline along with me.
I use "bullet lists" all the time with my kids too. This is especially helpful when we're rushing around in the morning before school or I'm multitasking the bedtime routine. For example, I may tell my daughter, "After breakfast I want you to brush your teeth, put on your shoes and make sure you have your books in your backpack. And, don't forget to take your medicine." She'll finish eating, then walk into the bathroom, maybe brush her teeth (or not), then kind of wander around until she sees something shiny and loses the plot entirely.
If I list, "Teeth. Shoes. Books. Meds." and make her repeat the list back to me, things go much more smoothly. "Teeth, shoes, books, meds. CHECK," she echoes.
My husband may not be aware of it, but I use this tactic on him as well. I've discovered that being distracted by shiny objects is not restricted to those under the age of ten.
In reviewing my blog, my secret hope is that people might keep a running list of key points I have shared. For example:
- SELF = PRIORITY
- Internal (thoughts) + External (actions) + Support (help)
- Increased Confidence = Increased Capacity
- Pay attention
- Be consistent
- Know your exits
- Say "Thank You" (early & often)
What's on your Bullet List?
PS: This is an "encore" post from last June. Hopefully the six people who read it then won't mind the repeat.