The Issues List

Uncertainty is a productivity terrorist.  It's the unseen enemy.  You don't know what you don't know, so you can't fight it. Uncertainty is a very common reason for procrastination.

One of my clients started a small business last February.  She is currently in the process of entering eleven months worth of financial data.  Why?  Because she put it off until the last minute.  Why? Because she wasn't sure what she needed or how big of a project it would be.    She wasn't sure where to start, so she didn't.

One of the most useful tricks I picked up as a project manager is the Issues List.  The best way to nail down that swirling cloud of uncertainty is to maintain a list of all the things about which you are uncertain.  Just get out a sheet of paper and start writing them down.

My client's issues list looked like this:

  • What do I need to keep track of?
  • Who will be doing my taxes and what format will they want?
  • What software should I get?
  • Can I just hire someone to do this for me?
  • What is my deadline?

Naming your issues gives them form so you can deal with them.  Once you know what the issues are, you can start resolving them.  And start making progress.