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:
- lengthy onboarding of new members
- you or your team predictably mess up
- you or your team use different terminologies for the same process
- things are seemingly complex
- 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.]