I use to-do lists all the time to help me get things done. If you want to learn more about how I use to-do lists, check out 5 To-Do Lists That Keep Me Sane and The List of 10: My Weekly System for Getting Priorities Done. To-do lists are probably the best tool I’ve found for making daily, consistent progress in every area of my life.
But, I’ve found that to-do lists don’t work well with some projects. To-do lists are great when I am in hustle mode and when I’m trying to prioritize between many different demands on my time.
Other times, however, my projects require in-depth, creative thinking instead of gazelle-like intensity. For these creative projects, I instead use something called a to-think list (I first found this idea at alearningaday.com).
A to-think list is a list of 1-3 questions or ideas that you keep in a place you can view it often. I keep mine right next to my List of 10 in my personal planner (picture).
The key is to keep the list small because the point is to let your mind simmer and focus on important questions or ideas in order to stimulate your best thinking. Our minds are more powerful than the best super-computers in the world, so you are basically sending a request to your subconscious brain to provide good answers or maybe better questions.
For example, just last week I was thinking about one of my goals for this Business-Money-Life Project. I am spending a lot of time writing each week, so I would like to build a larger list so that I can share it with as many people as possible. On my weekly to-think list, I wrote “How can I share my BML project articles with more people?”
I don’t have the answer to this question right away. That’s the point. This list is in a place I see it multiple times per day, so my mind will continually come back to it. Because I saturate my mind with this question, answers will begin to bubble up at unexpected times, maybe while I’m in the shower, on a walk, or lying in bed before going to sleep or right when I wake up.
This type of list will work with virtually any problems, puzzles, or creative challenges in your life. Just to stimulate your own thinking, here is a brief list of ideas you could add to your to-think list:
- How can I make more money this year?
- What systems need to be improved in my business?
- Where is my ideal place to live?
- How can I connect better with my children (or grand children or spouse)?
- What is a good present for my wife’s birthday?
- What would I do with my time if money were no object?
- What legacy would I like to leave for family, friends, society during my brief stay on this planet?
There are no right or wrong questions. They can be practical or very broad. The important idea here is the habit of creative and deep thinking. If you can use the to-think list as a tool to stimulate creativity and deep thought and combine that with organized, enthusiastic action, virtually any mission, project, or task you want to achieve is within reach.
So why not get started with your to-think list now?!
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