To-do lists are both the best thing ever…. and the worst thing ever. They keep us organized and on top of all of the millions of things that we need to accomplish, but at the same time, they can make us feel as if we have so much work ahead of us- that we’ll never get it all done. And let’s be honest- WE WILL NEVER WILL GET IT ALL DONE! That’s right- most of us will leave this earth someday with stuff still on our to-do lists! But having an organized to do list is a great tool in the quest on how to organize your life! So let’s talk about what makes for a great to do list:
1. To Do Lists Allow You to “Write It Down and Forget About It”
That is, at least until it needs to be done! But honestly, since most of us left a good portion of our brain cells behind when we entered this stage of life called “Mommyhood”, the idea of writing things down has risen to extreme importance. We need a system that allows us to get it all down somewhere- on paper, in an app, (but ideally on something better than the back of a napkin).
2. To-Do Lists Should Provide a List of Priorities
When you are staring down a list of 100+ things you’d like to accomplish, there should be an easy way to zero-in on what you need to work on today. A good to-do list should allow you to assign priorities to items. And then to easily re-prioritize things when you get that call from the school saying you need to come and pick up your child because he has a fever.
3. To Do Lists Should Allow You to Compile it ALL Into One Place
Keeping multiple lists in several notebooks, or on post-it notes stuck to the walls and on your computer leaves you feeling scattered. I recommend making a master to-do list… one that covers everything you someday hope to do. I suggest that you keep your list categorized by topic- work-related, to dos for around the home, to dos for your blog, etc.
4. Assign 2-3 items from your master list to your daily or weekly schedule- but keep it realistic!
Pick one to three things each day or even each week that you can realistically accomplish. And assess how long it will take you to get it done. Don’t assign “Clean out the basement”, “Put 2012 photos into a scrapbook” and “Dust the ceilings throughout the house” onto this week’s list simply because it consisted of just three things. It is the surest way to get none of this done, since you’ve set yourself up for failure right from the get-go.
5. When assigning items to your weekly to-do list, break them down into manageable bites!
Yes, losing 10 lbs has been on my to-do list for a long time now. But to put that on a weekly to do list only sets me up for failure. Instead I can break it down into manageable steps- last week was “drink water withe very meal”, this week it is “add exercise into my daily routine”, etc. Over time these bite-sized steps should lead me to achieving my larger goal.
Paper or App?
This is really a matter of personal preference- and to tell you the truth- I do a bit of both. I use the To-do lists App on my laptop which syncs nicely to my iCal calendar (as reminders), and also to my tablet and smartphone so that I can see my to do list everywhere I go. This is where I keep my master to do list of everything I hope to (someday) accomplish. This is also where I set up recurring weekly reminders- for things such as “water the plants” and “submit my work hours”- things that I honestly forget to do unless it is on my calendar!
But every day I still like to sit down and hand write a daily to do list of items to work through. And after I do each one, I get to cross them off. And wow- there’s just something about that “crossing it off the list feeling” (please tell me that I am not the only one!)
To Do Lists in Action…
If you would like to see how I organize my to do list- check out this video:
So please weigh in…. how do you organize your to-do list? On paper or in an app? And does having an organized to do list help you to lead a more organized life?