Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Tara, why don't you make a list?"

I am a list maker, through and through. I love short lists, long lists and colorful lists. Just love them!

I believe the first list I ever made was when my mom told me I needed to clean my room. I was overwhelmed by how messy it was and didn’t know where to start. I asked my mom to help me and she said, “Tara, why don’t you make a list?” I didn’t know how to spell so I drew pictures of the things I needed to pick up. Some items of clothing, a book, a Barbie doll, Mrs. Beasley (of course I wore her glasses while I was cleaning), some little dishes and a nicely made bed. I used crayons, it was colorful and I thought it was the prettiest list I had ever seen.

The fact is… yeah, I was probably was stalling. However, since I took the time to make this pretty little list, I enjoyed looking at it I was able to check off as I went. I could see my progress and when I picked up something that wasn’t on the list, like the magnetized alphabet shapes, I put it on the list so that I could cross that off too. I wanted to see what I had accomplished. And this list made me smile every time I looked at it.

My mom told me when I was done with my work, I could play. She followed that with, if I took something out to play with, I should put it away before taking out a new toy. Oh how I enjoyed playing in a clean room. I felt good that my mom was pleased with what a good job I had done. I had more room to play and everything was in its place. I also had more freedom, because I knew if I got it done fast, I would be able to play for a longer period of time.

There were several things I learned from this that I carry with me to this day.

1. A sense of accomplishment- If it’s not on my list, I don’t get it done. It was pointed out later to me by my business coach, Jim Larson that being overwhelmed is a common thing and since lists work for me, use them to my advantage. It was at that point I fully embraced my love of lists. Thank you Jim!!!!!

2. Efficiency- By adding on to my list, items that weren’t there before, I was able to come up with a permanent list that I could use each time I cleaned my room. I still have lists that I use over and over. I don’t cross things off those lists. I just put a pencil dot when it’s complete, so it can easily be erased and then reused.

3. Freedom- If I get the list done (the work part), I can play. Playing is of course different for me now than it was when I was 4. But the idea is still the same. And yes, sometimes… the playing would be considered by some as work. But hey, it’s my list… and that’s just how I roll! ((big smile))

So what does all of this have to do with The Once Timid Networker? Well, to be honest a lot. When I am going to a networking function, I have a list of things I need to have along with me (Paper, pen, calendar and business cards). As a Once Timid Networker, I used to think the only thing I needed was my business cards. But as I became more comfortable with networking, I added things to my list to include the other items (there’s that permanent list again). When I’m speaking at a BNI chapter, I have a list of other items I need to have with me. When I go to a conference, it’s a different list.

Are you a list maker? What do you enjoy about them? If not, is there a task that you struggle with? Try making a list and see if that helps you get it done faster?

Yes, I do love lists. They help me get things done and that feels so good! They help me look professional, because I am prepared. And using them allows me more freedom to do what I really want to do!

Tara Schmakel
The Once Timid Networker
Executive Chair- Entrepreneurial Excellence Business Forum- Minneapolis
The Workroom at Tara's


  1. life long lessons to learn at an early age :)

  2. Very nice, Tara!!!!!

  3. Mrs. Beasley makes me smile --- and list making is my life! Always feels good to check it off or add the one I forgot to note only to check it off as well. True kindreds list alike! Love you Tar!