The more/less list
Sunday, May 06, 2007One of the most powerful (and deceptively simple) principles of productivity is having lists that are reviewed periodically. A system like GTD offers a bare-bones framework for core lists, but lately I've been slowly adding to the number of lists I create and review -- especially for tracking things that are more vague or abstract than projects and actions. One of these is the "more/less" list.
Basically, the idea is to keep track of things of which you want more and things of which you want less. These can be anything, but I find it especially useful when applied to analyzing input. At a certain point, you will feel like you are capturing, processing and acting on all the moving parts in your life. You will have a comprehensive inventory and will be moving through things with a nice sense of control. But you may still not be getting the particular results you want, and I think a lot of this comes down to controlling input in a certain way. If you are committed to dealing with everything that comes in and are in fact doing so, you eventually need to adjust some different sorts of knobs to modify input so that it matches your higher level objectives. If certain incoming items cause a strong reaction, whether positive or negative, I find these are good candidates for the more/less list (Ask yourself - "Do I want more stuff like this, or less?").
Reviewing the more/less list is essentially a trigger for brainstorming, and I review mine during my weekly review. For each item, I think of ways I can modify processes and communications to alter what sort of input I am getting. There are usually no instant results with these sorts of changes, and some could be very slow to change (taking months or even years), but I find this additional list offers a simple but effective way to exert a little more control on some very subtle factors.