HOW TO CREATE A BURNER LIST
Draw a line straight down the middle of a piece of paper. Title the left column “Front Burner,” instructs Knapp, and the right column “Back Burner.”
Divide the Back Burner column in half to create a separate space in the lower right. Title this the “Kitchen Sink,” he says. These are the three crucial elements:
1. Front Burner (Left Column)
This is where your most important project goes. Only one item is allowed. List the to-dos you’ll need to complete the project underneath it. Keep lots of space in this column so you can write down additional action-items as they arise.
2. Back Burner (Right Column)
This is where your second-priority project goes. Only one item is allowed here. Since it’s less important than your Front Burner project, it should only take up half the space.
3. The Kitchen Sink (Bottom-Right Column)
Your least important actions items, which have nothing to do with your Front and Back Burner projects, go here. Putting them in this smaller space will force you to limit your smaller priorities and stay focused on your bigger goals.
WHY THE BURNER LIST WORKS
The Burner List is effective, Knapp insists, because it forces you to keep your attention on what’s most important. It also forces you to leave out the meaningless stuff, he explains.
“Right now the front burner of my to-do list today is about the book that I’m writing,” says Knapp. “So it’s all stuff about the book.”
On his Back Burner are projects for his various workshops and training engagements, he says, which he will work on when he’s done writing for the day.
The least important stuff he needs to do are in his Kitchen Sink, he says, like writing his next newsletter and cleaning his desk.
“All those kinds of stuff are in the Kitchen Sink and then that’s it,” he says.
“There’s no room for anything else.”
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