The Five Lists

Apr 10, 2008 by glennji

My housemate is a genius, and here’s why: he is the inventor of The Five Lists For Achieving Lasting Happiness and Transforming Your Mind, Your Life And Your Reality (my title — but catchy!).

It’s perfectly suited for existing systems such as Covey’s “Habits”, Allen’s “GTD” and the Hipster PDA and is, like these, infinitely hackable and tweakable. In GTD terminology, it’s a “trustable” system which can be used to “close the loop” and free up your mind for more important things. The genius lies in the definition of each list — realising that, for some people at least, there is a value in dissecting the infamous “to do” list into categories based on how motivated you are to do them.

My interpretation of the lists are slightly different to Chris’s, which are shown in parentheses, but they go like this:

  1. things I like doing (WANT TO DO)
  2. things only I can do (MUST DO)
  3. things I would like to try (CAN DO)
  4. things I just want done (DELEGATE)
  5. things to remember (TO DO)

For me it makes sense to separate things I’d like to do (3) from things I think should be done (4) — ideally, if I can get someone else to do (4) then I’m laughing. (2) is purposely kept as short as possible — I currently have “breathing” listed and ticked. I keep the lists in a soft-cover Moleskine notebook — my Hipster — along with cards, cash and my front-door key (because if I’m going to lose the notebook I may as well be completely f*cked).

In addition to the 5L’s I’ve got a page where I list my fears (as I realise what they are). This is because, for whatever reason, my personality-type is such that once I realise I’m afraid of something I go out of my way to force myself to do it. Scared of heights? Take up rock-climbing, and visit the top of the Eiffel tower, and go on rickety old ferris wheels. Scared of public speaking? Join an amateur theatre company. Scared of action? Write down things you’d like to try (3) then try them.

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