The single best business tool you can ever use

Adapt tools to your needs, not your needs to the tools

When you turn to the tools, start with the best one. The one tool that will solve problems and get you started on every project. The tool from which any other tool can be built. 

A list. 

Why lists are the single best business tool

Let me list the ways. 

Lists give you order

Organize everything you’ve been juggling inside your head. Put all that info into simple sentences or phrases. Find out if anything is missing or anything is out of order. 

Creating a list gives you a simple snapshot of what you are working on. 

Lists simplify steps

It is impossible to make tiramisu

Getting something done is not about doing the thing: it is about performing a series of individual steps to achieve the thing as a final outcome. A list gives you those steps and makes the job simple. 

Lists free up your brain

There is a lot of space up there, but attention is limited. 

The more you have to remember things, the less effort remains available for other things. Like: actually working on those things. 

Instead of recalling and remembering, put your attention and energy into productive work. 

Lists improve planning

Once you have all your information in a simple order, you also have a plan. 

You’ll be able to break work up into smaller steps, you’ll be able to see if something’s missing, and you’ll be able to make changes and move stuff around. 

Which reminds us that 

Lists make change easier

People worry that writing something down makes it a contract and takes away their freedom. This is wrong. 

It’s not a commitment. 

It is just a list. 

You can change it at any point, and it is so easy to change. Having all the information laid out before you makes changing a simple step or idea easy. 

What next

Bring your leaders or department heads together for everybody to answer the question: what is most important in your part of the business? Let that be your first list. And schedule a one-time consulting meeting to turn that list into a plan.