Two Lists One Attitude

I was promoted today. Lucky for you, this puts me in a wisdom-sharing mood. If I were to give career advice to the young(er) and coming, I wholeheartedly recommend the two lists and the attitude:

List #1: the to-do list

Carry a notepad around. Write down atomic (emphasis: atomic) tasks as bullet points. Scratch them with a different color once completed. Revise this list every morning by adding and scratching. Make sure it’s clean. Celebrate the sense of accomplishment as you flip to a fresh page. And never go to your boss without this list. A good list quickly tells you what you have done, what you’re doing, and what you’re going to do.

List #2: the checklist

Often recurring tasks can be improved with a checklist. Sometimes, a process that is explained in stages can be described as a checklist as well. It adds structure, efficiency, and quality control. A good checklist is non-verbose, easily accessible, and numbered. Applying a good checklist in the right place will have a measurable impact. In general, you need a checklist when you find:

  1. lengthy onboarding of new members
  2. you or your team predictably mess up
  3. you or your team use different terminologies for the same process
  4. things are seemingly complex
  5. too many people asking the same questions


The two lists help you become a better executer. Without the right idea/project/objective, execution is worthless. So: stay curious, explore, challenge the status quo, develop a bias for action, maintain optimism, and pursue challenges as opportunities.

[Picture of vintage ballet dancers in a forest was deliberately chosen to lighten up the mood. Apologies if you expected something else.]