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Creative Checklists

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  • Creative Checklists

    In Ready for Anything Chp 33 David talks of creative checklists that take you beyond first grade black belt. These are triggers for projects that might add value to your life. Anyone use such things? If so what sort of stuff is on them?

  • #2

    I've read over this chapter several times trying to pick up more of what David might have been talking about here.

    Ready for Anything is a compilation of a number of David's previous "Food for Thought" newsletters, rewritten and updated. (Many of these original articles are still available at, but you will have to dig for them.) In the original article David didn't include the word "creative". The last sentence of this paragraph reads, "And even fewer have tasted beyond black belt (oh yes, first degree black belt is only the beginning!) – really working their checklists." Of course he first defines "blackbelt" as "the power of the basic weekly review" and "consistently clearing your head, identifying outcomes and actions, organizing and updating lists, to maintain a clear head and proactive frame of mind."

    We know that David endorses creating all kinds of lists and he seems almost to create lists "just for fun". On page 179 of GTD he writes, "Be open to creating any kind of checklist as the urge strikes you. The possibilities are endless -- from 'Core Life Values' to 'Things to Take Camping.' Making lists, ad hoc, as they occur to you, is one of the most powerful yet subtlest and simplest procedures that you can install in your life." The he goes on to list a number of ideas for checklists.

    Given all this background (probably too much) I'm left to assume that he is talking about our Someday/Maybe lists in this chapter. I have lists of books that I might like to read, videos I might like to rent, places I would like to visit, computer programs I would like to write, businesses I'd like to start, books/articles I'd like to write, etc... Most recently I've started keeping a list of "romantic things to do" for those times that I'm not feeling very creative but yet I feel a need to do something creative and romantic for my wife. As I read or hear about ideas I put them on the list. I'll probably start a number of these "creative idea" lists as I see a need for them. Does this mean that I am becoming second-degree?

    Note also that there is a group that discusses ONLY the "Ready for Anything" book at This might be a good question over there too.


    • #3
      A couple of checklists I use

      Here are some of the checklists I use:

      ** Preparation for working from home -- I work from home 1 day a week and I use this checklist to make sure I bring home the stuff I need to.
      ** Pre-trip/vacation checklist -- all the things I need to do at the office to go out the door - set mail to out of office, change voice mail message, etc.
      ** Post-trip/vacation checklist -- all the things I need to do once I come back to the office


      • #4
        I use checklists for all kinds of things:

        - Weekend Chores
        - Weekly Review
        - Top Priority Projects
        - Stuff to Pack for Trips

        You get the idea...


        • #5
          Packing list, business trip
          Packing list, personal trip
          Batteries [where I list what batteries my cameras, etc. use]
          Gift ideas for [name]
          Model Numbers [where I list model numbers for my printers, lawn mower, fax machine, etc. along with part numbers for their toner, ink, blades, oil, filters, etc. This list has been most valuable.. If I am shopping and see that motor oil or toner is on sale, I can look at my list on my PDA to see if it is the kind I use.]
          Summer List [things I want to do this summer]
          Checklist for service call projects [so I don't forget a step]



          • #6
            Creative Lists

            One of the big "A Ha's" I took out of my telecoaching with Meg Gott was the use of Memos for various Lists. Too often, my Next Action Lists got clogged up with tons of Stuff. I felt a huge release after I was able to orgainize this Stuff into Lists that I could review weekly instead of daily. My lists shrank from 200+ per Action Category to a manageable 50.

            I noticed in the seminar that David's action lists were fairly short (no more than 50 per Action Category). I had over 2,000 altogether and I know my life is no more complicated than his. I came to the conclusion that I said Yes to often. I had a lot of ideas and I commited to reviewing them daily on my Action Lists instead of parking them in my Memo Lists for incubation on a Weekly basis.

            I would recommend some house cleaning if your lists are getting longer than 50 per category. It looks like I have some more cleaning to do myself. Think of some Creative Lists to incubate those ideas.

            Good luck.

            Eric Hubbard


            • #7
              question i've had about these checklists, even though DA recommends them and uses them -- i have a few lists myself -- is that they seem to be somewhat outside of the GTD flowchart. -- however i seem to remember they were in "someday/maybe" section of the book which of course i don't have handy right now.

              why wouldn't some of these items on these lists be next actions? For example a list of weekly chores as mentioned above-- would be @NAs on a @HOME llist instead of in another place like checklists to look for @NAs?

              I do have a list of "NII San Fran", i.e. next time i'm in san francisco since i only get out there a few times a year and there is a great guitar store that i go visit and i have a list of stuff i want to check out. -- so like a good GTD good DooBee I put that in a somewhere/maybe category checklist--

              am i right in assuming these lists are somewhere between "someday/maybe" and hard landscape and @next actions as i AM going to be in san fran soon (not sometime/not maybe but on September 22) so that checklist now becomes a next action in the @san francisco catebory or part of the hard landscape calendar of september 22.

              the term "someday/maybe" as applied by the GTD book has always seemed to me to be a misnomer as applied by DA in some of his lists because it seems more to be a mixture of

              "i want to climb mount everest"
              "i want to learn photoshop to be an expert"
              "i want take a bike ride in the blue ridge mountains"
              "i want to own my own company"

              so they seem to be placeholders for dreams not actionable today -- no next actions until "own my own company" becomes a project -- i have no problem with this use of the list as a dumping ground for items that don't need to be forgotten but don't have anything actionable now or in the near future


              maybe bothers me

              "i'll buy these books -- my book list"
              "try these restaurants -- my restaurant list"
              "try this wine -- wine list"
              "read 'the day the babies ran away' with my daughter 2-year old daughter"

              these seem to all be actionable items but just not right now -- these seem to be @NA just like others that are "deferred" items to be done whenever i get the chance -- but seems to me that these are really next actions that could be placed in a context such as @online -- book list
              @out and about -- wine list
              @home or @with family -- things to do with my daughter"

              because 'sure as shootin' i'll be online and not check my someday maybe book list

              or be at home and not check my daughter list --

              doesn't it seem better/wiser/GTD congruent to put these things on a @next actions list in some context rather than stuck somewhere else that you have to look out of context? -- what am i missing?


              • #8

                DA's list of creative checklists (pages 176-180) is in Chapter 7 on Organizing. I keep lists on my PDA. If I'm in the bookstore, I can check my list of Books I Want or my list of Books I Have (I used to buy duplicates before I did this). If I'm online to buy a book, I will also check those lists. Same thing for music.

                Since my lists are about things that are important to me, I don't have any problem remembering that they're there and that they are useful to review in certain contexts. Sometimes something from one of those lists WILL become a next action. I think it's up to the individual to decide when that becomes the appropriate thing to do. The weekly review offers a good opportunity to make that decision.



                • #9
                  jreyes - I actually have many more checklists than just the few that I mentioned above. Those are just some of my more creative ones. I even have a checklist for cleaning the bathroom!

                  If you need to add a next action to review a particular checklist there is no problem with that in this system. If you use an electronic system you may want to even copy the checklist into the notes for a particular next action item (like clean bathroom).

                  One of the advantages of step-by-step checklists is that it keeps you moving on a project in "widget cranking" mindset freeing your mind up to do it's own thing while the rest of you is 'cranking widgets".


                  • #10


                    i think i get it.

                    as i thought about it more -- pilots have checklists in their cockpits because they can't chance anything to memory.

                    Jesse R.


                    • #11
                      jreyes - Now you're flying!


                      • #12
                        How about "Regrets" or "Enjoyed, but ever Followed Through With..." lists to generate actions to do right away or mull over?

                        "Never studied abroad for a semester">>>REVIEW FOREIGN TRAVEL GUIDES FOR TRIP IDEAS

                        "Haven't picked up my trumpet in 5 years">>>RESUME TRUMPET


                        • #13
                          I think the use of checklists, among other things, helps to unclutter my next action lists. Instead of listing a lot of next actions, my next action can simply be to review a particular checklist. For example, I made checklists of items that I would like to do on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. My next actions are dated to dos to review the checklists (a virtual tickler). Or I may have one next action to clean the kitchen, but then a checklist of all the items I do to clean the kitchen. In a way, checklists are the most flexible part of the system. They are only limited by your creativity. I use the wonderful Handyshopper program to keep my checklists, but there are numerous ways to create your checklists.


                          • #14
                            One thing I've noticed about checklists is that it unclutters my mind from trying to remember different lists. Even just keeping alist of what presents I might buy for people for their birthdays or holidays has helped a lot. When I see something they may like in the store, even if it's months away, I write it down. Once their birthday gets close I don't have to wrack my brain trying to remember what I saw or where it was. It's almost a kind of "brain dump".


                            • #15
                              I've been using GMail for my all my email discussion groups for the last couple weeks. This morning I was looking at the targeted links and I saw this site:

                              There is actually some good creative stuff there so it's well worth a visit.

                              In fact, now that I think about it, I'm going to start a list of web sites to visit monthly and quarterly. (I already have some sites that I visit daily or weekly.) This site is going to go on that quarterly list.

                              Does anyone else know of other web sites with useful and creative lists on them?