Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time Management - Using To-Do Lists

I sat down to start working on this blog - and realized that I hadn't done my to do list for today! Now, granted, it's Sunday and I usually take the day a little easier than other days of the week, but still, I'm slacking! So I stopped and wrote that up before I went any farther working on this blog. It doesn't do me any any good to talk to you guys about using to do lists as a time management technique if I'm not following my own advice after all!

My personal view of to-do lists is that they are an extension of your daily planner. For some of you this might mean you jot down a few things that you really need to get done right there in your planner, for some of us this is something far more extensive!

I don't know about you, but I have a lot of things I'm juggling every day. Paperwork, part time job, a million and one things etsy related, friends and family, and more! My planner alone just doesn't cut it. My planner helps me with seeing the big picture, remembering what day I had planned on focusing on what promotional technique, appointments, and anything else that's scheduled ahead of time. That's step one.

Step two is to expand from my planner and create that day's "to-do" lists. Yes, I said lists! Now that may just be my own weird way of organizing it, but I have two lists that I write every day! My first list is my "real life" list. That has any appointments that were in my planner, any bills or other paper work I need to take care of that day, house chores, anything like that. The second list is my "etsy and fun" list. I put down everything that I do daily, and anything that I want to get done that day specifically.

Usually my lists get created some time in the morning as I wake up. I usually have the fun of crossing one or two of my "daily" things off as I write them on the list :) So why do I write them down? I love the satisfaction of seeing something's been done! It also helps when I look back over my day and I can see all that I've done, even the things that got added to the list after the fact. It helps me keep things in perspective.

One of the important steps to creating each day's to-do list is to check the lists from the day before. Anything that didn't get done the day before MUST be transferred to the new list! Unless I know there's no way I'm going to get it done that day - and then I start the next day's list early. Yes, I know, I'm drowning in lists! But it keeps my head screwed on straight.

Do you have to use my system for lists? Do you have to write down every little thing like I do? Certainly not. Do what works for YOU. Here's some other ideas:

1. Write one to do list for the week and post it near your work station. List major goals. Cross them off as you go.

2. Jot quick notes of what you want to get done that day in your planner - if there's not enough space use a sticky-note!

3. Use a white-board! Then you can simply erase what you've accomplishd, your being eco-friendly, and you get to watch your list SHRINK!

Would you like someone else perspective on to-do lists? Great! Because I have one :) This is what Mary Richmond had to say about her approach to to-do lists:

"I am a big believer in prioritizing my todo list....I put the most important thing I have to do that day first on my list--even if it is onerous and I don't really want to do it ;-)

So my list looks like this

~ must absolutely no foolin around, must really, reallydo today

~ should do today or i'll be behind or someone will be unhappy

~ would like to do today because i wanna do it

~ if there's time to do this today that would be cool

~ doesn't have to be done today but should be thinking about it

At the beginning of the week I make a master list, I write everything in under different days and then I prioritize each day. this only takes a few minutes but I let the master list build over the previous week...I just add notes, etc. as I go along

As for promoting? Be realistic. are you getting results? What will get you better results? Look at what you're doing and do what works best...."

BOTTOM LINE: Yes, to-do lists can seem tedious and they do take time to make. However, if you find that your not being as productive as you'd like, this is a great way to get yourself back on track! You'd be amazed at how much you can get done when you just have a plan :)

Do you have a system that works for you that's not listed here? Tell us about it in the comments!


TiLT said...

great series!!! Like most, I need to get better - but one to-do list I really like lately is the one on my Yahoo front everytime I go to check e-mail (all my accounts are collected there) - I see my list. It has long (like upcoming shows)and short range (like 'cut bags mon - sew wed'...)

uniquecommodities said...

As always - right on target and awesome! Thanks for sharing!

TNT2008 said...

I had a professor that believed strongly that you ought to only put 5 to do things on your list at once. She said taht if we write too many, we won't be able to get it all done and then we will feel that nothing was accomplished.

I, too, enjoy crossing through a completed job. I did it! I got something done:) When some jobs take multiple steps, I think it is important to feel that something has been accomplished.
Nice series.

MarlyMS said...

I like doing things in proper time. I have to-do lists in my desk but sometimes, due to forgetfulness, I overlooked them. Now, I am catching up.

Five O'Clock Somewhere said...

Great post. I can't leave the house without a list.

Mary said...

great post! (and what a brilliant woman that must have been that you quoted ;-))

you would laugh--i spent half an hour today getting my to do list, menu, etc. ready for the week. takes a bit of time and organizing but really makes the week work a lot easier....good luck!

Mannie Vincent said...

GREAT post!! Thanks for sharing!

I keep my old receipts, letter envelopes, etc and use them to jot down notes/reminders throught the day (: I try to be as eco-friendly as possible. I have plenty of notebooks around, so NO buying more paper just for notes! REUSE (:

<3 Mannie

BeadedTail said...

Great post Rose! I love crossing things off of lists - now, I just need to make sure I put everything I need to do on the list!

Kate said...

Alas, my time management plan seems to be 'do what I remembered I had to do', which isn't very effective. I need to get back to making lists, I think.

Thanks for the article!

Leah said...

I've been using lists a lot lately - balancing being a mom, a part time job, and my jewelry business means if it isn't written down, I'll probably forget to do it.

I have a pad of paper, and I write the day on the top sheet. At the end of the day, things that didn't get done get transferred to the top of the next day's list before I tear off the current day and toss in the recycle bin.