I’m a list-maker. It’s a curse. And a blessing. And uses a lot of paper. And favorite pens.
I use a lot of different styles of lists (church bulletin, scrap in my purse, margins of meeting agendas). You can tell these are all very effective and work for me….
But one kind of list that has been effective for me at work is the three note pads I keep on my desk. I started using three lists because I was having difficulty prioritizing what I needed to get done in a current day, but not lose track of long term projects or tasks that could wait. I was also doing a lot of tasks at work that I could do at home on the couch. I’m a big fan of couch work.
Determined to organize myself (again) I raided the stash of supplies in our office. Three small yellow pads and a sharpie later I had a workable solution.
Now when I think of something I need to do or want to accomplish, I write it on one of my three lists: Do this Today, Do this at Home, or This can Wait.
If you’re interested in more about making to-do lists, you should listen to this podcast (or read the transcript) by the Get-it-Done Guy. He discusses how to keep one list maintained and how to work through a backlog of undone tasks. If you like podcasts that include zombies then the Get-if-Done Guy is for you.
Each afternoon, I review my Do This Today list and cross items off if they were accomplished or are no longer relevant. If I didn’t get to a task or two then I decide if it needs to be done at home, if it can wait, or if it needs to go on the list for tomorrow. I tear off the page for that day and write tomorrow’s date on the next page. I jot down anything I know I need to get done tomorrow. I leave Today’s list and the This Can Wait list on my desk. My Do This at Home list goes in my bag with my laptop.
Even if I don’t accomplish exactly what I set out to do, at least I get it all written down in the same place. I get in trouble when I’m asked to do something or think of an idea myself and then forget to write it down. I am also sure to let others know that they should email me or check with me later if we’ve just finished a walk-and-talk in the hallway. I’m bound to be stopped again between that spot in the building and my desk. Putting some accountability on the other person helps the task get accomplished more efficiently.
That’s all for lists at the moment! I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, so let ’em roll in the comments!