Many people don’t understand the power of lists. For most of us, lists consist of work. A boss says to an employee, “Here is a list of the things I want you to accomplish.”
For me, a list is much more than just work. I use lists not only to get an idea of what i need to accomplish, but as brainstorming sessions. James Altucher introduced me to the idea of using lists to become an Idea Machine. It’s a part of his daily practice.
I’ve tried to get into the habit of making lists but then I fall out of the habit. In the past, it’s been a valuable way for me to generate ideas. It’s something I want to make a habit. About a week ago, I started adding a list of the day to my daily tasks.
For example last week, I created lists on the chapter names for the two books I want to write this year. Today, my list of the day theme is blog post ideas. Tomorrow, it could be about ideas for a side hustle I could start that day.
James recommends starting out with trying to create a list of ten ideas because it could take about five or six until you have to really start thinking. I usually try to fill up a page in my notebook which holds about thirty ideas. The practice is about coming up with good ideas but the majority of stuff you come up with will probably be useless. Don’t worry about whether every idea is a good idea. Start writing down everything that comes to mind on your daily topic. The real goal is to turn off your self censoring mechanism and start thinking deeper.
James relates your mind to any muscle in your body. For example, if you don’t use your legs for two weeks then you’ll probably need some type of physical therapy to help you get back into shape. Your mind is no different. You need to exercise it regularly to build up your strength. Similar to any other type of exercise you won’t see instant results right way. It’s the same way you wouldn’t run a marathon tomorrow without any previous training. James thinks this program of daily lists will take you about three to six months to turn your mind into an Idea Machine.
I’m about half way through month one. I’m going to start posting an example of one of my lists on this blog as a marker for each month I complete. My main goal is to make this one of my daily habits similar to writing this daily blog post. As I continue this habit, James offers another suggestion in addition to simply listing ideas: create a second column to list the first step action for each idea. That’s what I’m going to try today.