If you were to ask someone if they recognize the saying “making a list and checking it twice”, they may quickly establish a connection to Santa Claus. However, there is real magic to be found in making a list and checking it twice. Whether you are trying to meet year-end goals or you’re constituting your new-year goals; making a list and using it optimally can help can have a profound impact on achieving your objectives.

How it Helps Your Brain

Making a list can help you to visualize your goals. Behavioral Scientist, Steve Maraboli said “If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.” Writing down a goal makes it tangible and more obtainable. Consider it to be like picking up an object and carefully analyzing it. If you pick up an object and set it down right away, you are less likely to obtain information from it. However, the more you mentally manipulate a piece of information or “check it twice”, the more you will retain it.

Over-coming Distractions

Many of us are bombarded with daily distractions, especially with the holidays around the corner. It is easy for a to-do list to become a to-do someday list quickly. One way to overcome the many distractions is to schedule time for each item on your list. By scheduling time on your calendar, you are prioritizing it. Managing time into increments can allow you to optimize your brain power.

Studies have shown that many of us are only capable of mentally juggling four things at once, so the list making is a way of strengthening your resources. As a result, you may not need to put as much mental energy into something if you write it down. Utilizing a list allows you to shift your focus to a task higher in priority. You can become more accomplished by taking the time to determine when you are most productive and then scheduling tasks accordingly.

Break it Down

When it comes to goals, we often think of the big goals first. Sometimes it is difficult to determine where to begin because these goals can seem so large. A great way to get started is by breaking them down into smaller tasks, which you can then prioritize. Being vague will almost always lead you to uncertain results, but being specific will get you exactly what you want.

Organizing Information

The ability to organize information and prioritize it effectively is not something that comes naturally to the average person. Inspired by 19th Century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, authors and entrepreneurs alike have developed a way to prioritize time and resources. Pareto’s theory is most often known as the 80/20 Rule. This means there are a certain number of activities (20%) that account for the majority (80%) of your outputs. When applying this to a list, one should spend more time on the vital 20 percent, which will have a greater impact on reaching your goal.

While utilizing a list optimally may seem like a lot of responsibility, you might consider what that truly means. Jim Kwik once said, “With great responsibility, comes great power.” So empower yourself, take on the magic of making a list, and check it twice to meet your goals.

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