There are endless ways to create a To Do list….from pencil and paper to smartphone apps that will color code and prioritize for you! Choosing a method that flows for you is the key to successfully implementing the list approach to getting things done.
My Kind of Lists
I’m a paper and pencil kind of gal. Because I’m always on the move, I keep a small clipboard and pad of paper with me, jotting things down as I remember them. When the list gets too long, or there are too many pages being used, I take some time to corral the items – long term projects get transferred to a big white board, smaller items get re-written and time is allotted in my daily calendar to get them accomplished. This keeps things “fresh” in my eyes, and keeps me motivated.
More List Options
The key to making your To-Do list help you get things done is choosing a method that matches your style and specific needs. You might even want to keep one kind of list for things like household chores, and another for business related items. There are lots of options, so consider how these list making methods might fit your life.
Digital To-Do List Options
Once you enter the digital world there is no end to the To-Do list apps available for smartphones, tablets, and computers. These also allow for easy manipulation of tasks, and a good app will work in tandem with your calendar and other programs. Two of my more robust favorites are Remember The Milk and ToDoist. The key when looking at apps is choosing one that won’t overwhelm you with options. Simple IS better! If you're new to digital To-Do lists, you might want to try one of the simplest apps I’ve found - Tasks.
No matter what method you choose, prioritizing is a MUST. When small tasks mingle with large projects it’s a recipe for disaster. We’ll talk prioritizing methods next week.
In my humble, professional opinion, the less time spent creating the “perfect” To-Do list means more time available for finishing the things on the list! Use a method that works for you, remembering that “done well is better than not-done-perfectly”!
What type of To-Do list do you use? And what type of To-Do list scares you the most?
Are you a fan of To-Do lists, thrilling at the thought of completing a task so you can succinctly cross it off the list? Or are you overwhelmed at the thought of itemizing every possible task ahead of you and THEN crossing each off as you complete them?
What is a Do-To list?
The essence of a To-Do list is a visual representation of what is in our mind. To-Do lists help us to organize everything from household chores to holiday shopping to work-related tasks.
We start with a “brain dump” and empty from our minds all those things we want or need to do on to the list. The next step is to prioritize those items. We’re creating a hard copy back-up of our brain cells, freeing them up to focus on doing rather than remembering.
What are the challenges?
Sometimes people avoid To-Do lists because they can seem never-ending…cross off, add, cross off, and add…it can go on forever. It can also feel too structured with no room for unplanned interruptions, making the list all kitty whompus and overwhelming. And of course, for every person who feels a sense of accomplishment by crossing off items on the list, there is someone who probably feels immobilized by stress when things don’t get crossed off quickly enough.
Even with these challenges, To-Do lists are one of the most effective ways to organize your thoughts so you can get back to the doing of life. There is also the sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing off a completed task. I may even know someone who adds a task after completion to get that sense of satisfaction (oh alright, I confess, it’s me). Try it. You might be surprised just how motivating it can be!
How do I start?
The secret to making an effective To-Do list work for you is to choose a style that works WITH you, instead of giving you yet one more thing to do. Next week we’ll cover some different styles of To-Do lists. I’ll be giving you the tips and tricks you need to start making lists – and making progress.
Do you use To-Do lists or wing it? What do you find helpful and/or your biggest obstacle? Comment below and we’ll learn together!
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who