She’s cute, yes. She’s also a list-making ninja.

My friend Paula Rizzo looks like a sweet little cat. 

She’s neat and orderly and totally adorable, a petite, pretty brunette with a laugh like a bell. 

But don’t be fooled. Inside that kitten facade, the girl is a pit bull. 

She cut her teeth in newsrooms (which are not for the faint of heart) where she spent nearly two decades as a TV news producer, and now has an Emmy on her mantle to show for it. The girl doesn’t think in days or hours, but in seconds. 

So while the rest of us are doing things like, you know, blinking, she has already studied, learned, and mastered whole skill sets.

And when the girl had a stomachache for days, she ignored it.

For a delicate flower, she has an extremely high pain tolerance. Then the stomachache abated for a bit. You know why?

Because her appendix had exploded inside her. 

She lived to tell the tale, and while she was on the mend, she used her ninja list-making skills to rejigger what she would and would not be doing.

She and I were putting plans together to do a live event at the time, and when this disaster happened, she said, “We need something that will last even if body parts explode,” and so we launched an online digital course I’m quite proud of, called Lights Camera Expert.

The thing you might not guess about Paula is that she has an addictive personality. She gets into one thing, and THAT is what she’s into. Oatmeal for breakfast? All other breakfasts can go home now. Genmaicha green tea? Every day. I’m just glad she never tried meth. 

The girl is also obsessed with lists.

I don’t just mean “tasks for today” lists, but like, “stuff we need to talk about today over maki rolls,” including, “What’s going on with what’s-his-name?” 

(That is a question for me, and the answer is, nothing. Nothing is going on). 

She launched a blog about lists. Then a book about lists (Listful Thinking, bestseller, translated into umpteen languages, including whatever they speak on Mars). 

While I was doing laundry and trimming my nails and trying to figure out what to do for lunch, she released her second book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You. 

It’s pretty and practical, bound in an adorable package. Just like her. But there’s more to it than that.

Anyone can write down what they have to do today. But that’s just one use. Because what’s the point of all of the effort you make if you don’t know where you are right now, and where you’re headed. 

Lists give us control, reduce piles of to-dos into a clean, straight spine that can stand and move. She’s a list chiropractor, helping align the pieces to ensure that the to-dos align with the what the what-fors, and don’t forget the WHAT-I’M-NOT-DOING-ANYMORES, which is equally critical. 

If you could use a tool for helping map out your next steps—in your life, career, project, check out Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You. 

You’ll end up doing things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about, or done, and that’s key. Trust me, when Paula tells me to do something, I don’t ask questions. I do it.