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3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

“I can’t find that list I created” is a common problem that occurs if you’re a list maker. Often, we create a lot of lists and when we can’t find them, we end up creating similar or duplicate lists. It doesn’t matter if all the lists are kept in the same place, we still end up with duplicate lists because it becomes painful to go through each list just to find the thing that we are afte. The technique is to Categorize; add a Convention and Flag your lists. This mini toolbox of tricks should be usable on any app. Here’s the simple trick I use –

Categorize Your Lists

Whenever I create a list, I always put it into a category. This makes it easy to identify what the list is about, whether it’s a movie list, a book list, web articles to read, shopping list or a bucket list. It’s important to ensure that you consistently use the same categories for the types of lists that you create.

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Why would you want to do this? An example for myself is movies. I list out all the movies I would like to watch into different genres and sometimes into different years. Why not create a sublist? The issue is that they are not always searchable, some apps don’t search in your sublists and since this technique can be applied across all apps, it means you don’t have to be stuck to using any specific tool. That means if you change tools, you can still use this technique.

Create a Naming Convention

It’s important to be consistent about how you name your lists, it makes them easier to sort through and easier to search. So now that you have thought up some categories, when you create you lists put them in square brackets. e.g. [Movies] Comedies 2010. You instantly know that this list is about movies and comedies. You don’t have to use square brackets, you can use any identifier you want e.g. {Movies} or <Movies> or !Movies! anything that makes it easier for you to see.

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Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.15.51 PM

    From the above example, you can see I’ve categorized my lists with Movie, Shopping, Books, People, Christmas, New year, Recipes, Videos etc. It’s easy for me to identify what the main purpose of the list is for.

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    Search Becomes Easier

    Search becomes a lot easier. Can’t remember what you called the list? Well you should be able to remember the category, so if I’m looking for a recipe, but can’t remember the name of the recipe, and also can’t remember the name of the list I put it in, then I can search for the category. Now I have some clues which should help me to remember which list it is in, or at least it will reduce the amount of searching I have to do to find that recipe.

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    Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.16.33 PM

      I can select the appropriate list that the recipe would be under. I’m demonstrating this using Listible, but this technique should work in any list app.

      Flagging Important Lists

      If you use lists to prioritize what you want to accomplish, you can use advanced identifiers. For example you can place an asterix hash (*#) in front of the list name. This makes it easier to see visually, and also easy to search for the ‘important tasks that need to be accomplished.

      Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 6.01.21 PM

        These techniques work on file based lists, so even if you are keeping your lists on your mac or windows pc inside word documents or spreadsheets, using this technique will still make it easier to know what your lists are about, how important they are, and makes them easily searchable. So remember, the technique is to Categorize, to Convention and to Flag your list names.

        More by this author

        Hoi Wan

        Hoi is a mobilist who blogs about technology trends and productivity.

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        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

        The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

        The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

        Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

        Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

        The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

        Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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        Program Your Own Algorithms

        Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

        Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

        By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

        How to Form a Ritual

        I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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        Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

        1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
        2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
        3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
        4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

        Ways to Use a Ritual

        Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

        1. Waking Up

        Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

        2. Web Usage

        How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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        3. Reading

        How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

        4. Friendliness

        Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

        5. Working

        One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

        6. Going to the gym

        If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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        7. Exercise

        Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

        8. Sleeping

        Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

        8. Weekly Reviews

        The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

        Final Thoughts

        We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

        More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

         

        Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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