First Things First: Where To Keep Your To Do List
The first thing you need to do when planning your list is to decide where to keep it. A few options are:
1. A small notebook – It’s small, portable and you probably already have one somewhere in your house.
2. Index cards – Index cards and a binder clip are another great way to manage your task list. They are especially cool because you can rearrange them and sort them.
3. Your hand – don’t laugh. I’ve done this.
4. Computer – This is a great way to manage your to do list. You can use a full powered program and arrange and edit to your hearts content.
5. Phone – You can keep a simple list on your phone or you can use an app that syncs with your desktop.
The key to finding the perfect system is to not be afraid to try and try again to see what works for you.
My tool of choice: I use an app called Things. I’ve used it for several years and simply love it. I have it on my Mac and my phone.
How To Manage a To Do List
1. Brain Dump
Trying to constantly remember things you need to do is stressful, so I HIGHLY recommend getting things out of your brain and onto paper (or into your phone) asap.
2. Delegate and Delete
As often as possible (preferably each day) go through your inbox and decide what really needs to be done and assign it to a time frame or project. Don’t be afraid to delete things that no longer seem as important as they did when you first thought of them.
This is a vital step. I used to write down things in my to do list that I could never accomplish in one sitting. For example:
Bad To do: “Organize Photos”
That’s akin to putting “Explain Time Space Continuum To My 3 Year Old” on your list. It’s not exactly a one step process. It is a project, NOT a task.
It is KEY to “chunk” big projects down into 5-10 minute tasks:
– download pictures from camera
– List events.
– Star printable photos.
– Rinse and repeat for each month.
This makes it SO much easier and doable.
I tag my to do items based on type (errand, email, writing, computer, project, phone etc.)
That way, when I’m planning an errand run, have time to make phone calls, or sit down at the computer I can quickly see all the tasks of that type I need to do.
I also like to tag them based on how much time I think they’ll take. This has been key for me, because if I only have 5 minutes or 30 minutes, I can quickly see what I can accomplish in that time frame.
Obviously, tagging is only practical if you keep your to do list on the computer in some sort of program that makes it simple to do. It sounds a bit overboard, but I’ve found it to be very helpful.
Every day I pick 3 tasks that I want to do. When I sit down to my computer, this list keeps me from randomly wandering around the Internet.
Which of course has never happened. (ahem…)
I try to keep my list simple and doable. It gets messy and cluttered sometimes, but having a system helps me to get back on track quickly.
Maintenance vs. Accomplishment
If your To Do list is aligned with your mission statement and goals, completing your tasks each day is like following the yellow brick road to your dreams.
And that, my friends, is the cheesiest sentence I’ve ever written. Thank you, thank you very much.
Still, it’s true though. We could spend our whole lives just maintaining things. We could fill and complete our to do lists each day and never accomplish much.
But if we make sure our daily tasks are always leading us to our destination, there is so much joy in the journey and in the knowledge of our purpose.
To Do List Testimony
Awhile back I thought it would be a good idea to start 1000 gifts journals with my daughters. Â Like many good ideas it could have just floundered in my head (where many good ideas have gone to die).
But it lined up with my mission statement and goals so I assigned a day to get it done. When it came up on my list, I bought the journals.
And now? My girls and I write together in our journals before bed. A treasure in the making.
Next Week: Routines
Next week we’ll talk about routines, which are crucially DIFFERENT from to do items and can overwhelm you if you put them on your task list.
Update: Read The Rest of the Series…
1. Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done
2. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 2
3. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 3
4. Mom Tips: Routines vs Tasks – Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome