One great way to start new projects: with a Big Fat List.

I recommend doing it on paper, rather than on your computer. It is really important to do this before you start entering your to-dos or milestones in your favorite program, before you start organizing. Consider devoting (at least) one entire spiral pad to a single project.

Things that can go into the BFL:

  • To-do items
  • Problems
  • Ideas
  • Requests
  • People’s names and contact info
  • Possible resources
  • Actual resources
  • Business names and contact info
  • Possible tools (software, hardware, other)

This is also known as a Brain Dump (but it is more than that). Don’t try to do it in order. Don’t edit. Include everything. Be messy (but do make sure you’ll be able to read your own handwriting two months from now)!

Don’t show it to anyone. They’ll panic, or at least look at you funny.

Keep it at least for the duration of the project, add to it during the life of the project, and refer to it whever you sit down to evaluate your progress.

One of the biggest values of the Big Fat List is that it will support you to think outside of conventional project management wisdom (if necessary), and provide you the pivots from which to step outside the box:

No two projects are alike.

The best system is your system.

Your best system is the one that evolved to meet the needs of this project.


3 Responses to The Big Fat List

  1. Haithem says:

    I like your ideas, it is very helpfull, where your are free of all office obligation, I love the expression brain dump, because you can use this way any time any where whenever an idea trigger out of your mind, as Gina said I am carrying on me now a fat note book for defferent fields to have it ready for any idea might come to my mind.

  2. Penina says:

    Thanks for the feedback, and for letting me know about the link, Gina! I will try to post more insights like this.

    – P

  3. Gina says:

    I love The Big Fat List. I saw a link to it on SharedPlan’s forum:

    I am just realizing I rely on this machine too much. Recently I started carrying around a notebook to put all my random thoughts in. After reading your blog I may need to engage several notebooks, each for a different aspect of my life/different projects. Thanks!


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