Trickle List

The “trickle list” is an idea I first heard about in Michael Lopp’s book, Being Geek. It’s a list of activities that might only make a small difference individually, but over time the trickle builds to a constant stream of meaningful progress.

You can do more than you think with small, consistent investments of your time.Being Geek

Screenshot of the trickle list in use

A trickle list with pressed buttons

How can a trickle list help me win at life?

To use a trickle list, choose some high-potential activities to track and a word, letter, or symbol to represent each activity in a grid. Each day, mark the activities you’ve completed. At the end of the week, review your progress.

You can use this list to track the trickle of activities that shape your days. It may help you focus on your intentions through small, routine efforts. It can also help you visualise feedback on your progress. By consistently applying effort in small steps towards your goals, you can build momentum and strengthen your resilience.

Michael Lopp tracks the time he spends in hallways making “water cooler” conversation with people. Each conversation usually yields little of value beyond the usual small talk. One in every ten conversations, however, reveals a gem of information or a spark of genius that catapults his week into something extraordinary. Each day that Lopp talks to someone in the hallway, he adds a mark to his hallway trickle. He does not aim to do this every day, but if it has been a while since he’s made a mark, he’ll notice that.

Why did you make this?

The trickle list idea itself helps me stay concentrated on activities that are important to me. This lets me balance focus on the big wins as well as the little things.

While the paper based trickle list I originally used solved the main problem, I noticed a key part of making the most of the trickle list was its visibility. I needed to see it regularly, somewhere obvious. When I moved apartments and no longer had a sensible place to keep the list, I decided to take it digital and keep it on my phone. This was also an exercise in trying out a new programming language (Elm) that my colleagues were using at work.


Here it is:

Trickle List
If the trickle list is useful to you, let me know! I’d love to hear about it.