Happy Monday everyone!! Today is the first post in my Organize your Time series (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hop on over to this post.), and I could not be more excited. Today is the most important post in the series, and we are talking about lists!! Specifically, we will talk about four different kinds of lists that will corral you could-dos, should-dos, and must-dos. Because if you want to be organized, you must make lists!!
Now, this is not a new concept. Making lists have been on every blog, time management book, and organizational anything, so I’m not going to take credit for the ideas in this post. Hundreds of other people have used this method as well, and someone much smarter than me came up with it I’m sure.
I’m also not a psychologist- I just listen to what they have to say. And for me, and many other people, our brains work better when we make lists. Our time is better controlled when we make lists.
So, let’s jump in and make some lists!!
Master Task Lists
While list making is good in and of itself, making lists usually works better if you have your lists organized (one reason I love bullet journaling!) I found this method in Eat that Frog by Tracy Brian. You start with a big master task list. Everything goes on that list. Absolutely everything. If you’re a student, that includes everything from “buy toilet paper” to “get a job” to “write English paper.” If you’re a mom, you’re list may include signing up your daughter for soccer, making a doctor’s appointment, and researching private school options. Whatever situation you are in, every last task you could possibly have goes on this list.
Now, if you have over a page worth of items, feel free to divide your master task list into categories. I have several categories for to do items that are projects (based on David Allen’s definition of a project being any task that has multiple steps). You can also have a bucket list, a “don’t do” list, or a thousand other lists to break down your master task list. Honestly, it doesn’t matter as long as you keep your lists together.
It looks daunting, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It will get more manageable.
Monthly Task Lists
Now, get out your master task lists and examine them closely. Ideally, you do this at the beginning of every month. But, if it’s not the beginning of the month for you, don’t sweat it! Get out a fresh piece of paper, open a new document, or whatever you are doing. Then, take items from your master list that you want to get done this month. Don’t categorize these or anything just yet. Just transfer them from one list to another.
Now, look at the items on your monthly task list and add any that have popped into your mind that need to happen this month. If any task pops into your mind that doesn’t need to be done this month, add it to the master task list.
Before moving onto the next step, prioritize this list by what has to get done versus what you want to get done.
Way to go!! We are making progress.
Weekly Task Lists
Now, we are moving on to the weekly task lists. Again, ideally you do this at the beginning of the week, but no sweat. This process is to make your life more manageable, so don’t stress out about it. (Unless you- like me- have realized you have to read over twenty books this semester, including the Chicago Manual of Style. Then we can panic together!!).
Anyway, once again, you are going to move tasks over from the monthly list to the weekly list. But, this time, only move over items that have to get done. You don’t want to move over anything that is not a have-to until those are all finished. If any items on your monthly list are big projects that would take more than a week, feel free to break them down here.
Daily Task Lists
This is the last step where we actually make lists. Just pull over from your weekly task list what you will do today. Only move over what you have to do today. Add anything that has come to your mind that must happen today. If you accomplish all of those tasks, you can always pull over more!! Or you can celebrate your productivity with ice cream or something. I usually go for ice cream.
Congratulations!! You just completed a crash course in how to make lists that work, and you are one step closer to organizing your time!! I’ll be back later this week or early next week with your next challenge in our Organize your Life series!! What other lists do you keep to help you stay organized?