This Article Originally Published June 2002

by Kenny Kerner

I don't know about you, but I'm into making lists. I make lists for everything. Shopping. Driving. Birthdays and Anniversaries. Things I like. Things I dislike. You can never make too many lists. In fact, I never leave the house without at least one good list.

I'll bet you think they're a waste of time? Bet you're thinking . . . I have too many things to do today, I don't have time to sit down and make a list. Wrong. Remember the phone call you forgot to make last week? Or the extra set of guitar strings you didn't buy before rehearsal? Well, you might have remembered both of those "To Do" things if they were on your list!

If I were to ask you right now to name all of the things you had to do tomorrow, I'm guessing you'd leave out one or two important things—accidentally, of course. And as the day wears on, and we interact more and more with our peers, there are additional things to remember. New things to put on our list.

Because you guys read The Meter every month and I feel as if we're friends, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I make lots of lists. First and foremost, there's my Master List. That always stays in my home and lists every single appointment I have for the day and includes times, names and addresses.

Then, there's my Road List. This is an abbreviated list I tape to my car dashboard giving me the exact order of my car travels for the day. For example, if I'm on my way to TAXI to screen, then I had to make a bank deposit and pick up the mail at the post office, and still be home by 4 to do an interview, my Road List would read: 1. TAXI 2. Bank 3. Mail 4. Home/Interview 4 p.m. With this list taped to my dashboard, there's no way I will ever forget all of the things I need to do on that day.

Of course, when I teach at Musicians Institute, I keep a separate list—but still use the Road List concept for travel. So why am I telling you this? What's the point of all this nonsense? The point is that if you are not organized you will not succeed.

As musicians striving for success—as either performers or songwriters or both, you have appointments to keep, demos to make, press packages to finalize, shows to promote, rehearsals to schedule, fan lists to update, personal chores to complete, songs to write, girls to —well, you get the idea. Hey, we just made a list!

Making your Things To Do Today list is great organizational practice. It's a tool you need to be able to use and master. It lets you put your day into perspective. You no longer have to rely on your memory to remember where to go or what you're supposed to be doing next. Your list does that for you.

Another great thing about making a list is that you can always add to it or cross things off when you're done. Let's go back to my list for a minute. Suppose that after picking up the mail at the post office I decide to get a quick lunch with a friend. I simply insert #3A-Lunch and I'm done. After something is completed, cross it off with a line through it. And at the end of the day, throw your Road List away. What could be more simple?

Truth is that most professional people make lists. Arrangers, producers, publishers, A&R Reps, managers, agents—they all have lists. So get into the habit of thinking and acting like a professional. Write it down. Organize it. List it. And remember to keep a Road List with you in your car and a Master List at home in your work space.

Did I say Work Space? Hmmm. Sounds like another idea for a column! Better put it on my list.

Excerpted from the best-selling book "Going Pro" written by Kenny Kerner and published by Hal Leonard. You can order this book by calling 800-637-2852.