Listless in paradise

On holiday I rediscovered the joy of waking up without a to-do list in my head. Instead, I had only one job per day to deal with. In Tokelau, I marked assignments. In Samoa, I edited my current book.

Contrast my output for 11 days in Samoa and the 14 days since returning home. It's sickening. In Samoa I edited 20 chapters. In Wellington, back in my office with a list of things to do, I have edited just half of the final chapter - and yet that book is my top priority right now.

When writing lists for any work document, including web content, there are some tried and true rules about numbers.

  • Never exceed 7 items in a list.
  • Try to restrict lists to 3-5 items.
  • Don't write lists within lists.

But why? Traditional replies:

  • People can only hold 5-9 items in their short term memory.
  • Many people simply stop reading a list after the first couple of items.

Extra reason: long lists are bad for your brain.

Deduction: to edit efficiently, go to Aggie Grey's Hotel in Apia, Samoa, and stay there until the job is finished. Ahhhhh....

Aggie Grey's Hotel

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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