Lists are highly cool.
You’ve written them. I have too.
There is something thrilling about lists.
You feel all rad, and organised and diligent when you write them.
They help narrow your thoughts.
Scratching down notes like a mad scientist is enlivening.
A list’s endless scope, coupled with the power of their limits, makes us more creative.
It’s like we’re taming nature — harnessing the chaos of the Universe — with only a pencil and paper.
And yet we don’t use them enough.
I say this because I don’t.
I found myself short on ideas and creative energy recently.
So I asked, what is it that has repeatedly made me more creative?
Forcing myself to come up with as many ideas as possible.
Just the thought of list-writing for the sheer fun of it gives me tingles.
If you have read this far, it likely has the same effect on you too.
Lists are not only reserved for your to-dos and your next listicle blog post.
They have other, compelling, and practical uses.
Lists make you more intelligent.
When you use lists to come up with ideas, you are engaging in actual, in the moment, idea-peeling.
That first idea you had? Looks nice. But it looks even cooler, and possibly weirder when you strip away that first layer.
When you limit yourself to a topic; when you prime yourself with a question; when you push yourself further than the first answer to appear in your head, you begin an outer-worldly journey of idea-formulation.
Picture a rocky landscape on a foreign planet. The earth is red with specks of white and gold. Plumes of steam rise up above bubbling volcanic vents. This is a no-mans-land, and those plumes are idea-eruptions.
This is where you are when you ask yourself exciting and reasonably narrow questions with a potentially endless stream of answers.
You are becoming more intelligent in this process because you are literally rooting around in your brain.
You are encouraging your synapses to interact, crackle and form new connections.
This gives me a sense of aliveness like little else because I am using my head in a way no human has done before.
Can you say that I’m wrong?
I doubt it!
Am I grandiose? Probably. I blame the coffee.
Here are some list-writing ideas to get you started.
If you are in business for yourself, these may be particularly relevant, but feel free to tweak them to your liking and what works for your set up.
Take a pencil and a pad, and give yourself twenty minutes to scribble down as many answers to the following questions as you can. Try and go beyond ten answers for each. Nothing is too stupid or weird.
See what this leads to.
Don’t hold back. Just write like a maniac.
The weirder, the better.
Let your brain breath.
At the end of it, you will have some interesting answers, which you can use in the real world, or pin to your wall of idea-writing fame.
More than anything, use this exercise to show you what you are capable of.
You may be surprised…
- If I had to write a twenty-page (10,000 words) book on something I knew about, what would I write about?
Take the best answer and speed-write the book in a week. That’s about 1,500 words a day. Then get someone on Upwork to edit it. Get it on Amazon Kindle.
This book is the kind of thing you can create quickly.
- What are some things I could do that would bring me to life?
Those things that push you to the edge that you would never normally consider doing that may make you a little anxious; excited, and generally feel like a badass for doing it?
Ask that girl out. Climb that tree. Climb that hill. Send a hand-written letter to a customer. Take a selfie with a monkey. Record that podcast. Go on a train ride. High-five your barista. Go to Angkor Wat. Eat bugs.
Do those things. I know. You’re comfortable. But do it anyway (I’m speaking to myself here, so don’t hurt me). These things are what creates a life.
- If I did whatever it took to develop a friendly business relationship with someone, who could that be (think dream clients, influencers, celebrities, mentors)?
- How can I ethically grab the attention of my ideal client/mentor/influencer, in a way that no-one else is doing?
Much of this might be to give value to someone over time. Months, even years. But how?
- What could I do to get 1% better at what I do?
Take the best or most do-able idea and do it.
- What are some ways I can promote my business on Instagram or social media in a way no one else is doing?
Think giveaways; unique content; fun questions to ask viewers, surveys, games, unique short videos, etc.
- What are the things I’ve been really good at up until now?
Use these ideas to build up your confidence, and combine ideas to create unique, hybrid skillsets, quirks to emphasise (armpit-farting counts), and projects that will set you apart.
- What can I do that takes less than five minutes that would make me 1% happier?
Speak to a stranger? Meditate? Compliment someone? Drink a glass of lemon water? Do ten press-ups? Smell a flower? Thirty deep breaths. Take a quick bath? Stroke a cat?
List them out, and put them in your calendar. Either mix it up or set yourself a 30-day challenge to develop a new habit.
You KNOW for a fact that 30-days of cat-stroking would be epic.
- How can I increase my monthly-income by at least one per cent each month?
- What can I do that takes no longer than ten minutes to help my business grow?
Do this every day.
- What am I doing that is holding me back from being more productive?
Take one thing at a time, and gradually delete it from your life. Try and keep a habit for at least forty days for it to solidify.
- Who could be my dream target client or customer?
What market group comprises of the kinds of people I could put 80% of my energy into serving, so that I had a kick-ass, focused and outstanding business?
- What are ten more ideas for lists I could write to make my life better and more interesting?
(I know, I cheated. The last ideas are up to you…)
I believe in you.