Putting the list into journalist

He’s never on my list of things to do each day, but I drive to wherever I’m going of a morning to the accompaniment of the Chris Evans show.

This morning he was talking about lists – and how he never uses them.

Perhaps he doesn’t need them because he’s got other people – such as the show’s producer, who he says has lists of lists – to do the list-making for him.

I’m a firm believer in the power of the list as a weapon in the battle against stress.

I’ve said before that planning is the journalist’s friend, that looking ahead and shaping your day, your week and your month can buy you the time to do the things you want to do.

Not everyone believes in them, as one of my favourite writers, the Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman has reported. He remains a great list-maker, though, as well as a devotee of the mantra that anything that is going to take less than two minutes should be done immediately.

I frequently inspect reporters’ notebooks and diaries. Not in a weird way, I hasten to add, although I can sometimes get overly distracted by the beauty of decent shorthand notes.

I like to see how they frame their working days, the way they line up, marshal and corral the tasks, stories and calls they need to tackle.

Sometimes I am greeted by an ancient scroll, full of crossings-out and hieroglyphics which are the polar opposite of those beautiful shorthand outlines.

I point out the need to start each day with a fresh piece of paper, that the process of writing down the day’s agenda is itself a symbolic act of exerting control over the next 24 hours.

Confronting yourself with what needs to be done can be intimidating.

Chris Evans this morning complained that lists subverted his instinctive sense of priorities, forcing him to do whatever task he put at the top first.

Actually, the whole point of lists is to put you in – appropriately enough for Mr Evans – the driving seat.

I compose my lists in chronological order, aiming to organise the stuff I have to do in tentatively scheduled slots.

It works for me.

Anyway, I need to get on.

I’ve got a to-do list for tomorrow to start.




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