Trickle me softly

Everyone knows todo lists and GTD. But do you know Trickle Lists?

Todo lists are tactics. The items differ from day to day. Some might be large tasks. In contrast, Trickle Lists are strategy. The same teeny tiny steps – every day – toward a long-term goal.

I’ve learned about Trickle Lists and Trickle Theory a few years ago. If you don’t want to explore the – excellent! – original articles, here’s the gist:

There are a lot of areas where constancy rules and 1 big effort just doesn’t cut it. For example, as a boss you can’t establish good relationships with your directs by dumping concentrated feedback on them at the first of the months. Instead a little feedback every other day makes a huge difference.

Doing a little every day helps building a habit. Trickle Lists are training wheels that help form those habits.

Trickle Lists in Practise

Trickle List Take a sheet of paper and create a table. The columns are all the things you want to do regularly, the rows are the days of the months. You get to check a cell, if you’ve done that “trickle” on that day. After a while it’s self-reinforcing – You don’t want to break the chain.

A trickle typically takes about 5 minutes. I recommend against trickles that takes longer than 15 minutes.

To be doable, don’t try too many trickles at once. More than 5 is rather ambitious. I achieve more if I have at most 3 trickles. If I have more, I’ll just won’t get around to 2 of them. “Drawing for 5 mins” is one such failed trickle. “Catch someone doing great and praise them” worked out great, though 🙂

As you can see, my current list contains:

  • Mindfulness
    My brain is always seeking input, always reading or watching. It leaves me feeling that I’m seldomly “in the moment” and I’d like to be really present more often
  • Sing one song
    Singing makes me happy
  • Dance to at least one song
    Here I trick myself into a little workout: Once I start, I’ll dance longer. Especially if it’s this version of Get Lucky

For the more digitally inclined, Commit looks like a nice app following Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret that might be used for trickling.

Trickle lists have helped me improve in small, fuzzy, hard to tackle behaviours. Hopefully they’re useful for you, too.