Why you can’t do anything without checklists

Very soon I am lucky enough to be going to South Africa. Even better is that 75% of my trip will be based in game reserves, with safaris galore! As a wildlife nerd this is something I’ve long wanted to do and I can’t wait to get there. But how can I possibly make the most of a trip that I’ve been building up in my mind since I first listened to David Attenborough narrating a cheetah/gazelle death race?! Well for me the answer is checklists. I love a good checklist.

This first thing to point out is that this is not an article about how or where I write lists, apps I use etc… My colleague Gavin Ricketts has already ticked that one off (boom boom) with this article. For me, this is more of a “Why bother?” kind of article.

Lists. What are the good for?

Most working days, and the occasional weekend day, I start by writing a list of things I need to get done. These are usually pretty straight forward, ‘Send email to X’, ‘Draft script for Y’, ‘Pack bag for awesome holiday’. But simple as they are, having a list means I a) don’t forget to do something, and b) know that by not ticking something off, I am consciously ignoring it, which in turn will bug me until it gets done… For me that is the most important reason for having checklists. If something has made it onto any of my lists, it is either through necessity or desire. In a work context, by ignoring a necessity I’m either making my own life harder or disappointing someone else. By ignoring a desire, I’m just disappointing myself! These don’t seem like good things.

The other list

This is why I also have my more challenging checklists. Things that I’d love to do, or things that I need to do to achieve something. These are very often longterm objectives, but for me the effect is just the same. We’re all allowed slack off every now and then, but if you’ve gone so far as to put something on your list, just make sure at some stage you do it! Even if it takes two years to get there, there can be a real sense of achievement in ticking off something that you’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I for one know there are plenty of things that I’d like to or should do, and there are to do lists to prove it! Until they get done they’re going to be tapping me on the should like an annoying little child.

So, this brings me back to the original dilemma. How to make the most of a trip of a lifetime? An experience which I’m lucky enough to be sharing with my wife, parents and sister.

Well, here’s my to do list for ‘Lewis does SA 2015’.

  1. Make a good old fashioned family holiday video
  2. Take a proper family snap
  3. Shoot enough wildlife footage to make a 2-3 minute wildlife video
  4. Photograph the Big Five
  5. Take a photograph I’d be happy to enter into a competition
  6. Eat 5 new things
  7. Read a book
  8. Draw 2 animals
  9. Chat with the locals
  10. RELAX!

I’ve told the internet now, so I really have to do them.

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