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Rangeviews: Listing your activities

Dave Ramsey, renowned financial guru, has a basic plan to get out of debt. He says to list all of your debts, smallest to largest, and pay them off starting with the smallest. His point is when you have paid one off, you can use that money to apply to the next smallest bill and pay it off. It all boils down to momentum. Success breeds success.

The same theory can be applied to many aspects, not just financial. Say, you have several small jobs that you've been putting off. Using the same strategy, you can write out a list of them and cross them off as they are completed. The motivation factor works in this case too. You can do short ones and go down the list, as Ramsey suggests, smallest to largest. Or if you are really into it, do the job you hate the worst, first. That will truly encourage you as you feel the monkey starting to climb down off your back.

This reminds me of teaching one of our sons to get things out of the way. He was complaining about the need to fill out his 4-H book, but didn't want to do it. I told him if he'd just sit down and do it, he wouldn't have to worry about it any more. He did. It took him just a little while and it was completed. It was a good lesson learned and it likely influenced his life.

I'm not sure if list people actually accomplish any more than non-list writers or if just seems so because items are checked off. In fact many folks keep their "to-dos" in their heads, and note their accomplishments mentally. Whatever it takes to accomplish the tasks is what you need to do. Planning is a necessity in all aspects of life. I know it makes my week go better if I even roughly plan out my meals for the week, as one example.

“I’m not sure if list people actually accomplish any more than non-list writers or if just seems so because items are checked off. In fact many folks keep their ‘to-dos’ in their heads, and note their accomplishments mentally.”

Bigger projects usually take more planning. A rancher knows what needs to be done in preparation for calving and endeavors to accomplish them before the first calf hits the ground. She lays in supplies such as ear tags, elastrator bands, faux colostrum, milk replacer and "lick 'em" from the farmers' K-Mart while doing her Christmas shopping, saving her a trip to town. If ear tags have to be ordered they can come right after the holiday rush. Our ear tags came imprinted with SANDERS to help alleviate confusion. My favorite use of an ear tag is a luggage tag. My husband attached a large, orange, personalized tag to my suitcase and when I travel there is no mistaking my satchel by anyone else nor can the tag be easily removed.

One caveat if you are new to list making — don't use stickie notes. Get a plain notebook and use it. That keeps everything in one place and it is much less likely to get lost. If it does, a notebook is much easier to find than a scrap of paper. Trust me. I know. ❖