If you have problems organizing your to do list(s) – keep reading. I have tried more ways to stay organized with “to-do’s” than I could begin to count. I can be a very detailed person. With that, comes the drawback of easily making things to complicated. I’ve definitely done that in the past with my to-do lists. The strategy below, when written out, seems like a lot, but it is really very straight forward, simple and takes the heat off of worrying that you might forget something. This has worked great in my life. I know it will for you too:
* Let’s start with organizing your lists. This is critical. Without it, you will drive yourself crazy. I use “Categories”, “Projects” and a “Daily To-Do List” (C,P,D). Categories are the major areas that I have in my life. For example: Work, Home, MRN (a board I serve on), and Celebrate Recovery (CR). Within each “C” I record everything that comes to my mind that I need to take care of at some point – doesn’t matter if it’s in the next week or the next 6 months.
I will create a “P” for any effort that is going to take multiple tasks to complete. One example is within CR. I coordinate a community-wide event annually. This event isn’t going to happen for several months, but there are many tasks and some of those tasks are extremely time sensitive. Having a specific “P” for this effort keeps the “what” and “when” very clear.
This “P” is listed in my CR “C” even though some of the tasks will definitely come from and/or effect my MRN “C”. This makes no difference at all. Simply place your “P” within the “C” that makes the most sense.
* I highly suggest keeping your “C’s, P’s, D’s” in the same place. If you are an electronic organizer, then keep them in the same tool. Having said this, you see further down where I keep my “P’s” in a separate tool. This works great. I just create a link to each “P”. The point is to have easy reference to all your lists.
If you are a pen and paper organizer, then keep everything in the same planner. It is important you can review your lists monthly, weekly, daily. This will be much easier if you have things together.
* As you record tasks in your “C’s”, the two critical pieces of information is the name of the task and the due date. When you see that you have multiple individual tasks all being necessary to complete the same item, then you create a “P”.
* I like to create my “P” plans in a spreadsheet program. If the project is exceptionally large and is dependent on other “P’s”, I may use an actual Project Management System.
For the paper and pen folks – if your planner / notebook has pages reserved for “P’s” this will be helpful. The problem to be aware of in managing a “P” via pen and paper is that it can get really difficult when tasks / dates change and when you have tasks that are dependent on each other.
* Anything you put on your “D” should be at a task level. If you need to complete multiple tasks to completely accomplish something, then it probably needs to be a “P”.
If you place “P” level items on your “D”, then you become overwhelmed, all of the tasks to complete the “P” cannot be seen clearly and the likelihood of missing things is very high.
A summary view:
Daily To-Do List
Categories = major responsibility areas.
Projects = large items on one of your category lists that require multiple tasks to complete. Your project plans can be printed to keep a copy within your planner or your pad folio (if you don’t keep everything electronic).
Daily To-Do List = tasks that need to or can be done on particular days. Tasks belong to a project or one of your categories.
Here are a few more suggestions:
1. Pray over your to-do list. Ask God to make it clear what tasks have to get done today and that He would make your day productive.
2. Save 30 minutes at the end of your day to look over that days to-do list. If you did not complete an important task, consider why and be sure to move it forward.
3. Review your category lists and project plan(s) on a weekly and monthly basis to keep them “clean”. ”Clean” being removal of completed or no longer needed items, ensuring all items have a timeframe associated with them (tasks shouldn’t just “hang out” on any of your lists) and keeping your responsibilities at a constant awareness that is not overwhelming.
4. Always have a daily task(s) for loving others. Call it whatever works for you. Whether it be to call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, to hand write a note to someone, to pray for a friend or family member and/or to stop by and surprise someone with a visit. This is the most important task you have each and everyday.