I’m mostly a solo list maker. I document daily to-dos, goals and task checklists. But from time to time I share a list with my husband or friends to be more efficient. My husband and I both add to our grocery list throughout the week. And my friends and I share lists about things we want to talk about or make sure we do. I haven’t used this technique at work yet but as my guest blogger Kirsten Bischoff, founding partner of HATCHEDit.com, tells us — sharing makes you more productive.
A List Built For Two
by Kirsten Bischoff
An individual’s approach to list making is almost as unique an identifier as their fingerprints. After all, every brain works in a unique way. Lists can be rigid and precise, or completely abstract; they can be well laid out plans or vague strings of abbreviations. So the challenges when two people get together to create a list (or lists) can seem insurmountable.
When Megan and I started our company HATCHEDit.com, we had to come up with an approach to organizing our work that suited our two very different personalities. What has evolved over time is a neutral approach to list building that fosters an environment of open communication that works for both of us and keeps us on track to achieving our short-term and our long-term goals.
1. Brainstorm together – Megan and I find that being in unfamiliar surroundings can be very beneficial to our brainstorming. Usually we try and take a long, brisk walk in the mornings and discuss the projects we are working on. As we discuss what is going on in our company and the world, we often come up with ideas for new ways to look at things, or additional tasks that we didn’t realize need to be done. After an idea has been talked to exhaustion one of us will make a quick note of it on our phone for later reference.
2. Organize – Take your brainstorming notes and organize and expand on them making a clear list of things that need to be done. Because Megan and I have a working relationship that includes long term and short term projects we keep a running list for both on a white board.
3. Assign Ownership – As we log each task we decide who has ownership. Ownership works well if it is flexible. Lists are great, but in real life things often change. There may be a link between two tasks that we don’t discover immediately. More often than we expect it makes sense for ownership of tasks to change.
4. Communicate – Communicating often is what makes it possible for us to change task ownership, or occasionally decide when a task is wrong or should be tabled or changed.
Whether we are working in the same place or not, we try and touch base throughout the day as we cross things off our lists. If that is not possible, we circle back at the end of the day and do a really brief catch-up call. These conversations help us keep a handle on It also gives us a chance to discuss any difficulties we might be having and help each other out. If something comes up or gets finished after hours, we discuss it the following day on our morning walk.
5. Update – Keep your list up to date. Cross off tasks as they are completed. On days where I am moving slower than Megan, as she crosses things off, I get inspired to focus, and vice versa.
Kirsten Bischoff is founding partner of HATCHEDit.com, a mobile whiteboard for managing your personal life. We bring online, social collaboration tools into the home.