This tiny thing is at the root of most of my organizational abilities. Lists are wonderful things for a number of reasons.
- They allow me to empty extraneous stuff out of my head. Seriously. There’s limited space in there, so a list of everything I need to get done allows me to free up that space. I don’t have to waste time trying to remember something I probably forgot anyway.
- I get the joy of crossing things off, which is very reinforcing. So much so that I sometimes add stuff to the list I already did, just so I can cross it off or tick the little check box. Hey, I’ll take all the reinforcement I can get!
- Lists help me keep focused. There’s never a question of “now what?” I mean, think about it. How much time do you spend dithering about, trying to figure out what to do next? When there’s a list, you eliminate that time waste because you know what you still have to do.
But there’s actual method to my list making. It’s not just willy nilly jotting things in one after another on a notepad. Well okay, for groceries and the like, it is. I use the Shopper app for my iPhone and have a running list for all the places I’m likely to shop (grocery, Walmart, the Asian market, Lowe’s, whatever). But for actual TASKS I’m quite a bit more detailed. There’s an app for that (c’mon, you saw that coming). I actually use Intuition, which was designed for busy moms. I’m sure there are other organizer apps out there (in fact, I may go check just for fun–actually this ToDo+ looks pretty good…), but either way, whatever you use, whether it’s an app or a day planner or just a steno pad, here are a few list making principles to adhere to.
- Organize tasks by category so that you can tell at a glance what sorts of things need to be done. I have categories for errands, chores, work stuff, class stuff, writing, house prep, blog stuff, writing…you get the idea.
- Take big tasks and break them down into smaller tasks. This is a really important one. SOOOOO many people waste time staring at big tasks not knowing where to start or how to approach it. Breaking things down into smaller segments makes things feel more manageable. Plus it gives you more stuff to cross off!
- Organize your list according to importance. Sometimes this means importance based on actual due date. Sometimes it means the stuff you just don’t wanna do, that you tend to put off because UGH. Sometimes it’s stuff you actually DO want to do (:cough: writing :cough:) but put off because it’s hard or…whatever reason. Do yourself a favor and DO THAT THING FIRST. It will make the rest of your day/week go smoother because you’re more efficient with everything else when your worst/hardest task is already finished. Why? Because you’re no longer dragging your feet. That’s probably THE BEST THING my mother ever taught me. She trained me NOT to procrastinate on things (i.e. homework initially) and do them immediately. It’s something I’ve done my whole life that has served me well. Thanks, Mom.