The Long List to Unproductive No Where

The Long List to Unproductive No Where.

The long list to unproductive no where has featured heavily in my life. You know that never ending one. The one that just keeps getting longer and never seems to reduce no matter how diligently you work at it.

‘The List’ can create all kinds of emotional shenanigans. Overwhelm, frustration, defeat and so on. Is there a way we can re strategies our relationship to ‘The List’ to empower ourselves, reengage and revitalise our attitude towards it? 

I believe so.

Here’s some thoughts.

5 is enough.

I attended a seminar once (Business Blueprint) that handed out the most genius note pads. On the pad were the numbers 1 – 5. These numbers represented the Top Five priorities for the day. You selected your top 5 most important from ‘The List’. Achievement of these items meant you were attending to those things that would make the most impact or progress you the furthest in your business at that time. 

Anything achieved on top of these 5… BONUS! However, focusing diligently and successfully progressing these tasks (note I said progressing as opposed to completing because completion can be a bit of a myth) can make a massive impact across your whole business. 

What I discovered was doing these 5 often took care of many of the other list stragglers. Another BONUS!

It is likely we will (at a minimum progress) if not accomplish the 5 things on our list. In fact it is even more likely we will be more productive than we might have otherwise been had we not narrowed it down. This is for a couple of reasons to do with our brain chemistry (neuroscience geek warning 🙂 ).

Things our Mind likes about short lists.

  1. It suddenly feels achievable and we face the new list with confidence and dare I say excitement. YAY… ‘Achievement’ – hormone Dopamine release. As you get more things done you get another little hit of that Dopamine goodness which is rewarding and keeps you going.
  2. On top of that, visually reducing your list down to ‘5’ items is a sure fire way to calm the brain so we stay out of overwhelm. Overwhelm throws us out of focus and into procrastination (another demon for another blog :). YAY… ‘Mood’ hormone Serotonin release.
  3. Feeling confidant and calm means we stay in the executive functioning area (frontal cortex-ish) area of the brain which means we are also in the best place to make good decisions.

I think you might be getting the picture!

Create a vision.

I have said this many times in my blogs, interviews, posts, podcast segments and anywhere else that people would listen. Our brain believes what we:

  1. Keep putting in front of it.
  2. Keep practicing through repetition.
  3. Keep adding to – by making it bigger, scarier, more colourful or in essence more meaningful etc etc.

In other words what we decide to tell the brain is real, it will believe**. 

Therefore if you were to practice telling your brain how awesome you are going to feel as you move through and ace your list, how accomplished you will be, how organised, in control, magnificent and simply freaking spectacular this new list dominating version of you is and you practice this feeling and visualisation consistently your brain will believe it and do everything it can to make it so because according you your brain (after enough practice) it is. Blimey that’s a long sentence. 

We can create our reality internally before we manifest it externally. 

Oh my gosh I have so much I want to say on the ‘thought to tangibles’ topic but I got’s to control myself cause I am only up to number 3 on my list for today!

Forgive, Forge on and practice Gratitude.

Did I always take my own medicine or listen to this advice? Even after being introduced to the Top 5 concept, I’m sad to say I did not. Unfortunately I can be a bit thick. I have to fall off the wagon a few times to have a solid comparison between pain and pleasure before I am fully committed to acts that take discipline. I had to forgive myself multiple times, decide to get back on the wagon and be grateful for every little bit of success. Gratitude does something special. Gratitude informs my mind that  I have everything I need to be happy right now… and so it is.

So now I’m a devotee of ‘The Little 5 List’.  My ‘Little 5 List’ is my emotional productivity insurance. 

Hope this helps you as you fight the ‘good list’ fight.

Many happy accomplishments along the way.


** please note this is a generalized statement to do with the topic. There are many more complex situations where I recognise you may feel this statement may not apply (but let’s talk because I have found this a true statement in very complex situations including traumatic experiences).

Dr Linda Wilson is a Mindflow Mentor, Author and Presenter.

From neuroscience to energy psychology, habits change to emotional management – let’s have a chat about you, your team or your business. Are you looking to find your way through, around or over something? Are you in need of a course correction and need support?

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