Army Officer Gives List-Making Tips

I don’t have to tell you that I’m hooked on lists. I have shared and will continue to share some of my best tricks with you. But I’ve also been on the lookout for some fellow list producers so they can give you some of their own secrets.

Enter: Full time officer in the United States Army and part time manager of, an online thought leadership magazine — John Childs. This list-maker was kind enough to give some tips. He also produced a video featuring two of his favorite list-making apps: 2Do and Teamly.

Be Specific

So we’ve introduced you to the software to get you moving in the right direct, now let’s introduce the process.

First things first, stay specific. Daily tasks should be measurable to some degree. Therefore, you should not have “go workout” as a task to do. It should be listed more like, “do Ab Ripper from P90x at 4 PM today”. By being specific, we are able to measure our progress and know if we’ve accomplished the task or not.

Do we really want to just “workout” or do we want to “Do 100 crunches?”

Be a Minimalist

Most successful people have no more than five things on their to do list daily. This is because, instead of trying to accomplish more than they can handle, which inevitably leads to not getting anything done and feeling a sense of failure, they accept the fact that they will be interrupted with life. Thus, they minimize their list to the most important things they need to do to move themselves forward.

Conduct the 20 Mile March

The 20 Mile March, as described in Great by Choice, is the daily effort you put into planning how you will advance your life. This requires a little grit.

Grit is the ability of someone to retain their dedication to accomplishing their goals no matter the conditions.

Gritty people are successful because they plan, prepare, and execute the tasks they set out for themselves. All of their goals have milestones that are set with subtasks to accomplish those milestones.

By conducting concentrated, deliberate planning for our goals with daily tasks to support those goals, we can plan our own success

Measure Everything

In The Art of Self Study, the topic of discussion in Smobal’s January edition, we discuss the importance of measuring your success.

  • Did you set out what you wanted to do?
  • Why were you successful?
  • Why did you fail?
  • What could you have changed?

By evaluating our own performance we know what to do different or what to do the same next time we set out on a similar path.

John Childs is the founder and editor of Smobal, a magazine dedicated to teaching next generation leaders how to change the world. Smobal offers online training with topics ranging from building multicultural teams to the Art of Self Study.


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