It doesn’t matter if you’re naughty or nice. It’s the end of the year and nearly a new one, a perfect time to start fresh. My plan? Make a list and check it twice.
A list can be an excellent tool for your use. Ask Santa if you don’t believe me!
Aside from the fact that every year means getting older, (I’m old enough and ready to stop getting older already!) I am looking forward to the New Year.
So, I’m starting to make my list for all the progress to come! How about you?
I’ve decided to do something completely different this year. I won’t be wasting time feeling any end of year sadness or regret. I’ll just lose time that way and what’s the point?
I’m not making any resolutions either though I usually don’t. That’s just another way to come up with reasons for regrets for most people, in my book. So, I’d rather keep things much more positive.
That’s why I’m making a list and checking it twice.
I might even be stubborn enough to do it twice, or as many times as it takes, to get things right.
See, moving forward and seeking to make progress is a positive way to go about things. Besides, I always seem to have BIG things to do for my forward advances in life and business. And lots of things to do, too.
And that’s why this post is in part about the beauty of making a list. I’m a big list-maker. And we all know how great it feels to check things off a list.
A List About a List
Jumping right in, here’s a list I put together to tell you the reasons why using a list is an efficient way to proceed to the New Year:
Lists help you organize your thoughts and plans and are a terrific tool for business use.
- Lists help you to remember things and allow you to add to your thoughts, or adjust elements in a plan, as you go.
- Lists force you to write things down which has many benefits. For starters, writing things down reinforces your memory of them. Written business plans, strategies, and campaigns get better results when written, 60% according to research.
- Lists narrow topics to shorter, easily understood snippets. They help break up content, adding whitespace for easier readability and understandability by people. Sometimes, they stress only THE most important points, with clarity.
- Lists track things. I have lots of lists in the form of spreadsheets. Things like Editorial Schedules, Metrics Reports, Guest Post Pitches/Publish Dates, and more. I wasn’t a big fan of spreadsheets but, they have more and better applications so I continue to try using them to track different things. I know one writer who organizes ideas on spreadsheets, making it easier for her to categorize topics and even gather supporting data.
- Lists are what outlines essentially are, and as a writer, well, I don’t have to tell you, outlines are the twinkle in my writer’s eye. A way to keep me from straying into far and remote areas anywhere in the radius of a million miles from any given topic. This type of list is a precious jewel. And, like an expandable ladder, moves, up and down, and all around, but in an orderly fashion, for best use without falls.
- Lists unite. As in, “Here’s a list, everyone. Now we’re all on the same page.” Or delegate. As in, “Here’s your list. Get it done and thanks.” Or spell out. As in, “Refer to the list.” Yikes, this list could go on forever.
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes about why now, like Santa, you should be checking your VIP list twice.
This list thing is really about YOU.
It’s about evaluating where you have been, where you stand, and where you want to go.
And since businesses, and people too, tend to work in timelines and frames of time, the end of the year is an important time to evaluate and plan.
In this article published at last year’s end, Kathryn Aragon proposes 7 Questions to prep your New Year marketing plan, offering an overview of key questions for a quarterly marketing plan review.
I especially like the first three questions because sometimes with everything going on, people forget to ask themselves the most important yet simple of questions: “What is my goal for this year?”
Further, identifying your purpose and asking what a successful outcome looks like may well lead to the appropriate action plan, so looking at these essential items, narrowly, may help shape what you need to do, more easily.
Finally, the third question intrigues me most:
What’s one way you could add value to your customers?” Kathryn Aragon
I’m not so sure this one is on many business agendas as a top priority and certainly not at this core evaluation and planning stage.
Maybe I’m wrong, and businesses are recognizing the impact of the customer in the digital age, and maybe companies do understand how the roles in marketing are shifting. But honestly, I do doubt this approach has reached top three consideration, for many companies, in general.
Adopting a user-centric shift in your business outlook and strategic business (and marketing) plan, is the way to go for any organization.
More than adjusting to this “customer-centric” thinking and pushing customer needs up on your list, I say make it a mindset, overall.
More than adjusting to “customer-centric” thinking & pushing customer needs up on your list, I say make it a mindset.Click to tweet
MailChimp wins a big yellow banana for this list.
I love this list by MailChimp. They call it their “Annual Report,” but I say it is an extremely customer-centric piece of work focusing on, yep, you guessed it, their users and audience.
The way they present the company end-of-year info, adds humor and human interest data (like how many donuts/bagels eaten) to hard stats all while giving loads of valuable information about MailChimp operations, philanthropy, and services.
This list is better than a list of bullet points or numbered items because it does more. By using visually pleasing and interactive content, it goes about creating engagement with an audience while delivering a vibrant business message.
I enjoyed this and learned a lot more about MailChimp at the same time.
MarketingProfs offers another great example of providing an interesting list, of sorts, in how they introduce themselves on their About Page.
What I’m trying to say is a list does NOT have to be boring. Or presented in only one way. It can show personality and be funny, all while providing information to your audience. Pulling it off like the above examples, only makes you more memorable. Don’t you think?
Considering the popularity, virality, and shareability of list posts, you may want to make a list of ideas for list posts, or other listable information and figure out how to produce them in the most appealing way possible.
One more idea.
This one just happened to cross my desktop on the way to hit publish. I’m adding it because I like the concept that Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer brings up as a way to use lists.
I like Linda’s get-things-done attitude, in general, and this is just one more example of how she keeps a positive spin on freelance writing and a writer’s career. A “Backwards List” is basically what her idea is and what it does, is help you build confidence in yourself and what you are accomplishing as you go.
The spin on Linda’s list making technique is to make your list highlight and reinforce what you DID get done rather than focus on what you did NOT. So she suggests listing everything you did today, or this morning, or afternoon, or whatever, rather than crossing things off a list that illuminates what you didn’t do.
I suppose this is a “chicken and the egg” discussion at some point but, the best possible use and style in making lists is making them work for YOU. (Your audience.)
I see merit in the affirming possibilities of Linda’s list idea. I love the fun and creativity in MailChimp and MarketProfs’ use of lists. And, I’m hopeful that I’m on the Nice List for Santa!
But, overall, I love a list to:
- get organized,
- outline ideas; and,
- punch off progress by adding those beloved checkmarks.
Lists help me be more productive, mostly. And I find that a fabulous list is also an excellent business tool in, oh so many ways. What do you think?