The Shopping List Technique: Part 3

Pointing out the route around the potholes.


The ‘Shopping List Technique’ is really gathering momentum currently. Even with the outline given in
the first half of this 4-part series, one is already equipped to be far more productive than
ever before. But I have had my own challenges, one of which I discovered in the early days of refining
the shopping list technique, and that was I would not even get through task number 1. That was the
absolute worst feeling in the world. I soon learned my mistake and today I am sharing with you how to
make this list run like Forest Gump (at the end of the movie).

How big should my tasks be?

The one major downfall many people, including myself, have is that we want it all and we want it now!
This puts us in a position where we want to include world altering tasks that generally take forever. The
key here is to break each task down to the smallest possible action you can take to progress in the right
direction. Take the example of writing a book. If I want to write a book and it is important to me, then I
need to put it on my ‘Shopping List’ in order to get it done. But Rome was not built in a day and neither
has any book been published in 24 hours either. But If I make my first step, “research where to start
when writing a book” or to contact my local publisher, or even both, then I have a tangible action step
which I can accomplish and tick off my list. If you want to progress more than that, simply add more
steps like mind map ideas, choose the characters in your story or tell a friend about the plot. But never
put more meat on existing list items, that can be very demotivating.

The most enjoyable part of it all.

Now comes the fun part. When our tasks are broken up into bite size chunks, then ticking them off
becomes quite a regular activity (and to some an addiction). There aren’t many things which make you
feel as productive as ticking off items from your list and with the ‘Shopping List Technique,’ where we
know what we are ticking off is actually the most important tasks of the day, the feeling is amplified.

The sneaky cliff of death.

I feel that I cannot go on to the last part of the ‘Shopping List Technique’ without warning against what I
have found to be the biggest temptation once this technique starts to be so successful. The temptation
we face upon completing a step or two, especially when they are related, is that we suddenly add
another step mid list… and another. The better it goes the more we add. This does feel great, but the
truth is that we already know what needs to be done today and that was taken care of when we
prioritized (see explanation on part 2). If we start adding steps along the way, we run the risk
of becoming very narrow minded and make great progress in one aspect of our lives but leave the other
equally important aspects behind. I especially see this risk sneaking in with task-orientated individuals.
Resist the urge to add more steps along the way. Trust that you set up your priorities correctly and run
through the list like a champ.

What to look forward to?

In the fourth and final part of the ‘Shopping List Technique’ we look at how to bring it home and always
be the most productive you possibly can. We also throw in some curveballs like, “What if my priority list
starts with something which can only be done at 3PM?”

I am looking forward to completing this journey with you.
Till next week.

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