Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bullet List

One of the "DO" strategies (in my BE-->DO-->HAVE) which helps me a lot is making lists.

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 victims audiences.)

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:
  • Internal (thoughts) + External (actions) + Support (help)
  • Increased Confidence = Increased Capacity
  • Pay attention
  • Be consistent
  • Know your exits
  • Say "Thank You" (early & often)
Whether it's something as trivial as a joke list or as important as prioritizing your own well-being, think about breaking it down into a few concise bullets.

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.
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♥ Katinka said...

Stopping by from SITS and wishing you a Happy Thursday!!!! :)

Feeling Fit With Dana said...

Great post. I keep a list with me at all times too. Although it isn't bullets, but just about a book :) I need to keep on task because the shiny things are very bright :) Have a great day!

{ Persis Shah } said...

great post! im a compulsive list maker too =)

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

Charlene, your list of jokes is hilarious. I've never heard of that before! My guy is also a list maker. He sometimes finds a little note scribbled at the bottom, "make new list." I knew he savors crossing it out when he DOES make the new list. I tried adding "buy nice gift for girlfriend" but I don't think it worked.

Charlene said...

Oh trust me - my husband has tried to add things to my list MANY times! (Usually X-rated.) LOL!!!

BLOGitse said...

I have a zillion lists! :)

“Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest” from Cairo!


Elizabeth a.k.a. Type A Mommy said...

I love lists, too. So much so that sometimes when my two year old colors, he tells me he's making a list! I love the Garfield post-it, and your husband putting out a hit on your joke list. My husband would totally say something like that, too, except he's a heck of a lot more liekly ot have a joke list than I a. Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

Lady Jane said...

I gotta try this I'm always forgetting stuff.


mickstonedesigns said...

Great post. I write lists when I feel like things are out of control. Not so good at finding the lists, though...

lori said...

I like lists too and I totally relate to forgetting jokes. I like to laugh and I like to be able to make other people laugh, but I just can't remember jokes. I'll have to try the "joke list" idea! Happy SITS Saturday :-)

Denise said...

Stopping by from SITS to say Hi!
I am adding you so I can come back & read more!
Please stop by!

Melissa B. said...

My bullet list? Well, first off, to MAKE a bullet list! Then, of course, try not to LOSE that list. And finally, to ACCOMPLISH all the things I've listed!

Sarah said...

I love lists, as well. I make them constantly, then end up losing them, usually. LOL!

Charlene said...

Y'all crack me up! Thanks for stopping by and the comments! :-)

"And so our stories go..." said...

I always work with lists. That's how I get my life organized. Thanks for all the tips. You sound very good at all this.

Linda said...

I love lists! I make lists of lists! It makes me feel organized, when I am really not. Thanks.

Elle said...

I love lists. If I have my lists, I feel more comfortable and calm. I recently got a digital voice recorder to keep "electronic lists" or reminders, but it's just not the same as my good old fashioned paper lists.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

confused homemaker said...

I make an excessive amount of lists, I agree with Linda I love them but I'm not really as organized as the lists make me feel, LOL.

Trece said...

Not only do I use lists, I use my copy-paste-print buttons all the time. Like the idea of a bullet list though (nods approvingly as she rolls concept around in the place where her mind used to be).

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