How I Go About Getting Tons of Things Done By Making Lists

getting things done making listsMy To Do List is massive. In fact, I have a few items left over from last week that have been added to this week, and so on and so on and so on. I believe my “Organize stationery” action item originated in mid-February, to be exact. We’re nearing July and I still can’t locate an envelope in my stacks of paper throughout my drawers.

Obviously, my system needs a tune-up. I stumbled across this link last week and sifted through a few of my favorite productivity tools, and eek— I’ve found one that REALLY really works for me. It’s been two weeks and I’m well on my way to [finally!] finding the time to organize the dreaded miscellaneous paper drawer.

Here’s what has been working for me lately:

1. Doodle
I start with a blank notepad and draw empty little squares down the left side. I like to make them pretty b/c I’m a bit of a control freak, but you can make yours quick and easy. Or leave them out. I just like checking boxes b/c it gives me crazy satisfaction.

2. Organize
From here, I write down my tasks, as specific as possible. I like to include a time frame for suggested completion, so the list looks something like this as follows:
[ ] Check and respond to BAKERY e-mails [25 minutes]
[ ] Draft Blog post [45 minutes]

My rule? If any task could take longer than 60 minutes, divide it into 1, 2 or 3 sub-tasks.

For example:
[ ] Plan Marketing class schedule for fall [120 minutes]
[ ] Brainstorm topic list for fall class with Jaime [30 minutes]
[ ] Come up with ten topic ideas by tomorrow [15 minutes]
[ ] Divide responsibilities between Janice and myself [15 minutes]
[ ] Research Topic #1 [50 minutes]
[ ] Draft Topic #1 Notes document [45 minutes]
[ ] Outline course assignments and documents [40 minutes]
[ ] Draft course documents [120 minutes]
[ ] E-mail followers to alert them of our class [10 minutes]
[ ] Draft a post for registering information [15 minutes]

3. Prioritize
Now that everything’s laid out in front of you, go to town and check these goodies off. I like to start with the 5-minute tasks to warm myself up, and then I eventually delve into 45 minute tasks or more time-oriented action items.

You’ll be amazed at how much time is wasted when you don’t allot your tasks correctly. Rather than checking your email [yet again], tackle a five minute task and forget it! Tasks do nothing but hang over your head when unfinished, so make it your personal goal to complete as many tasks as possible. Know that if you don’t finish them, you’ll have to add them to tomorrow’s list!

Watch out for recurring tasks that are growing stale. Figure out why you’re not completing these tasks— are they too mundane? Too broad? Too specific? Re-format your task to make it easily do-able for you.

So. This is what works for me… very well. How do you organize your tasks? Any special software you like to use, or are you an old-fashioned pen/paper kinda kid?

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