Lists make life easier — plain and simple. Recently I introduced you to my new favorite list-making tool to keep track of all the restaurants I love or want to try called Matchbook. It allows you to easily add restaurants and any place with an address really – to your iPhone. I’ve used it about a zillion times since finding it. Seriously.
The brain behind this incredible app is, of course, a list maker. Meet Jason Schwartz — this month’s Featured List Producer:
Q: Why do you call yourself a compulsive list producer?
A: I actually consider myself a compulsive list-enabler. I constantly see ineffective lists in action, and that is what drives things at Matchbook. The same scrappy list of bars and restaurants shows up repeatedly in the notepad of people’s phones. If you ask people if this list is useful, they say that it isn’t. Lists are supposed to make us more efficient and organized, and a massive number of people compulsively create restaurant lists that don’t live up to that promise. I want to make all that work useful.
Q: What do you make lists about?
A: My first love is lists of places. Restaurants, bars, and shops that I want to go to, or remember to go back to. It’s like my little black book of gems that I know about and nobody else does.
I also spend a lot of time making lists in the development of Matchbook. When you manage a software development team, your entire world is lists. Lists of features, lists of bugs, lists of priorities. Lists are essential to the product management process.
Q: How often do you make lists?
A: I don’t know how often I create a list, but every day I ADD to my lists.
Q: What type of list do you make the most?
A: Startups run lean so you just can’t do everything all at once which makes lists essential. They help me remember things and make delegation easier. Of course I add a place to my Matchbook every day, so that’s my most frequently accessed list.
Q: How do you make lists?
A: There’s beauty in the handwritten and I use a moleskine for brainstorming lists. If the idea is viable, it makes it onto my laptop for fleshing out. Technology gives me the power to harness that out-of-control list into an obedient and well-behaved animal.
I like my lists to be simple and easy to work with, but this often takes a lot of work. We’ve spent a lot of time designing Matchbook so that creating a refined list is effortless.
Q: How have you found lists help you succeed?
A: If you look at habits that occur on a mass scale, they tend to be the ones that help people accomplish something in their lives. Making lists falls into this category.
The most successful software taps into already occurring habits, and list making is a big one. Pinterest replaces your cork board with a limitless canvas that you can share. Similar to pulling a page out of a magazine, Instapaper lets you to build a list of articles to read when you have the time. Matchbook makes your list of must-remember places useful.
List making is a habit of successful people, and when you can enhance that with technology the result is powerful.
Q: Specifically what was the last thing you wrote a list about?
A: The last big list I made was a collaborative effort with Evian Water. We worked together to curate a list of recommended places to “Live Young” in New York. The list shared some of the best healthy-eating restaurants, nightclub hotspots, parks in New York City.
Jason Schwartz is the founder of Matchbook, an app for saving those must-remember restaurants, bars & shops. He has also taught executives at MTV, Warner Music Group, lectured at General Assembly and presented at SXSW, Web 2.0 Expo, and AAN on how to create products that consumers love.