Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To do lists and other nonsense

I’ve never been much of a list maker. My husband (who very much is) always tells me to add things to my list when I think of them. I’ve always told him I’m more likely to lose the list than to forget to do it.

These days that doesn’t seem to be the case. Since I had the baby (and really a few months before), I have been operating in a sort of fog and constantly forget what it is that I need to do. I have decided to resort to the lists as a necessity. The daily chores get done and the weekly chores usually get done, but all the picky things like making appointments and writing thank you cards were falling through the cracks.

The problem is, to do lists still make me cranky. I forget to write things on them, then I forget to look at them, then when I do look at them I only see things I can’t do at that particular moment, and by the end of the day I just look back at the list and see a bunch of things that I still haven’t done and feel defeated.
So I think the solution (and this makes me even crazier) is to maintain two separate lists: a master to do list, and a basic daily plan. The purpose of the master list is to “catch” all the stuff that’s floating in my head, so that I don’t think later “what was it I said I needed to do?” The purpose of the daily plan is to actually have a reasonable and actionable set of things to do.
So, here’s how my strategy looks these days – this is a work in progress:
  • I keep a master list on a pretty notepad of all the things I need to do. As soon as I think about it, I get my rear end to the notepad and write it down. My notepad is on my refrigerator so I don’t lose it, but I should probably put it on my nightstand when I go to bed and in my purse when I go out because things are still getting away from me.

  • I take 5 minutes at night before I go to bed (but after the baby goes to bed) to read my list and choose a few things from it that I really need or want to get done the next day. If I choose too many, I won’t get through them or I’ll be overwhelmed and not do any. I also try to cluster tasks – I pay bills in a block a few times a month, I do errands once or twice a week when things are near each other – but not schedule huge things like “file 3 months worth of papers,” a task which would stay on the master list forever.
  • I take 5 minutes in the morning to think about how those tasks will fit into my day. Are they desk tasks that I can do while holding the baby? Are they errands I should schedule around naptime?
  • I cross things off the master list as they get done, and I throw away my daily schedule every day, whether I got to everything on it or not.
It’s not a perfect system, and I can’t believe that I actually gave in to using lists. Right now, it works for me, but I’m very open to suggestions. As you can see, I’m orgazationally challenged!


Lisa said...

Sounds like a good plan! I'm forever writing lists but somethings just seem to stay on there for ever, so I might try your system instead!

redtilehouse said...

Read "Getting Things Done," or look into the mom version at a website called "Power of Moms."

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