Three Steps to Getting Everything Done

Jennifer Wilson

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August 20, 2011

Hi, my name is Aaron, and I’m addicted to lists. I love making lists, I love using lists, I tend to live my life by lists. I have been this way for most of my life. I’ve used to do lists to manage my tasks for a while now, so you can imagine I’ve gone through a lot of different “systems” for creating and using to do lists. I’ve read a lot of books, tried different tools, and made changes along the way. Right now, I’ve come to a system that seems to be working really well for me, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Three Steps to Getting Everything Done

  1. The major list – It all starts with one major list. Once a week, usually on Sunday, I sit down with a pad and pen and start making my major list. I start out by dividing it into three categories, based on my areas of focus: scrapbooking, school, and home. From that point, I start listing EVERYTHING I need to get done. Some people call this the “brain dump.” I sit and think about anything that I may have on my plate for each of those areas. I look through my email, check my calendar, and usually go through my other notes and such. Usually this is a long list, and that’s how it should be. Even if there is something small to do, or something that is ongoing (curse you laundry!), I add it to the list.
  2. Due Dates – Once the big list is done, I sit down and start putting the due dates on all of the tasks. If the task doesn’t have a due date, I create one that I feel is reasonable. There is some flexibility with the due dates I come up with, so if I have a big project due one day, I won’t assign any other tasks to be due on that day. After I get all of the due dates figured out, I enter them into my calendar. I choose to use Google Tasks and Google Calendar together, so when I add a task to it’s due date, it automatically goes onto a task list.
  3. The Daily Check In – Now that I have everything on my task list, I check in on it each night. So right before I go to bed, I look at my calendar and task list and see what is due the next day. I start a small list with those tasks. I try to keep my daily lists to four or five tasks. If I don’t have any due the following day, I look ahead. This short list of tasks will be the list that guides what I do on the following day.  I’ve found that by keeping this daily list short, I don’t get as overwhelmed as I used to.
That has been my approach to using to do lists as of late. Do you use to do lists? What strategies do you have for keeping your to do lists manageable and useful?

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Neda

    I’m a total list person too. It helps me remember everything, but sometimes when I need my lists, I realize I left my notebook at home! Now when I make my lists for shopping or supplies or anything else I need to do when I’m running errands, I just keep my lists on my iphone so I will always have the lists with me when I need them 🙂

    Reply
  2. gscrapbooks

    I always make lists, similar to what you do. In my datebook on the left side I write things that are house/kid related, on the right hand side I write things that are scrapbook related. The things that have to get done are at the top of the list. The list is always pretty big at the beginning of the week. What doesn’t get done gets moved to the next day, by the end of the week normally everything is done. (Except for meal planning, I’m constantly moving that one and never get it done, lol!).

    Reply
  3. Mary

    Neda–Could you clarify exactly where and how you keep the lists on your iPhone? What app?

    Reply
    • Neda

      Hi Mary,
      Sorry I didn’t see this before. I use Evernote for iPhone…it’s free from the app store and it’s an amazing app for organizing lists. You should definitely check it out. Before I had Evernote, I’d just use the notepad in the apps that were already on my iPhone 🙂

      Reply
  4. KittenJen

    I absolutely NEED my lists. If it’s not on a list, I don’t remember to do it. I also start with a “brain dump” list that lives on my nightstand. I sleep much better after I’ve “dumped” all the to do’s. Then in the morning I move selected items to my “to do today” list. I like to keep my original brain dump list in a big notebook. It’s fun flipping back and seeing how much I’ve accomplished.

    Reply

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