Recently, one of John Lennon’s To-Do lists went up for auction. To paraphrase, it listed “buy different marmalade,” “get certain books,” “talk to the cable guy,” etc. I liked thinking about the universality of To-Do lists. We all have stuff to do, even when we’re rich and famous. Of course, John Lennon’s list was given to his assistant to complete, but I still like thinking about it.
My regular To-Do list is lengthy, but add in Christmas tasks and my head reels! So, use these tips to make progress this busy week, short of hiring an assistant!
- Write everything down. Don’t assume you will remember later.
- If I am really busy, nothing derails me faster than my own brain. If I waste time on indecision or whirling thoughts, or I fear I forgot something, I am not acting on those necessary To-Dos.
- I use technology, but sometimes I still like to write things down on paper. As I go through my morning routine, get the kids ready or do the dishes, I jot literally every thought that occurs to me down. This morning’s list reads 1. Tina, 2. Bob, 3. Jenny, 4. Joe Re: his mom, 5. re-print music list for mass, and 6. peanut butter cups.
- The first 4 are emails I need to send, the 5th is a quick task, and the 6th is something that I need to put on my grocery list. I write thoughts down so I can continue what I am doing without distraction. Then when I am ready to get to real business, I use my list to see what I need to do.
- Break big tasks into little steps.
- Every task represents an action or a list of actions. For example, “Bake cookies” really means find recipes, check cabinets, make grocery list, go shopping, clean off kitchen counter and then bake cookies.
- Some of those smaller steps can be done between bigger ones, like clean off the counter when you do the dishes in the morning, check recipes while the kids do their homework, check cabinets while making dinner, make grocery list on the train to work, etc.
- Maintain focus.
- Once you have determined a reasonable list for the day, stick with it. For example, “inventory baking supplies and add needed things to grocery list” can end up as “spend 7 hours emptying all the cabinets, make a really big mess, get overwhelmed and either throw away too much or stuff it all back in the cabinets.” Oh, and never making the grocery list.
- So refer back to the list regularly to make sure you’re on track. Applaud yourself for small victories, and move on to the next task.
- Try setting a timer and powering through as many of the little tasks as possible in say, 20 minutes.
- Make a January list.
- While putting away laundry the other day, I was frustrated at the state of my tween’s t-shirt drawer. I need to go through the shirts, and purge a bunch. BUT NOT TODAY!
- So that’s on the January list, along with “purge and pack the decorations” “tidy up the crawl space” and “organize the furnace room.” All are important, but none are vitally important today or even this month, so they don’t deserve my attention right now.
- Take care of yourself. Eat to fuel your body and mind before action. Try to get enough rest (though speaking with a friend last week about our To Do lists, we both said “Sleep is overrated!!). Seriously though, you can’t do anything if you get too tired or run-down.
- Keep it fun. Stop for a pumpkin spice latte, sing along loudly to Christmas carols in the car, ride the grocery cart back to your car. These are the holidays, after all! Enjoy!
This is part of the Dec. 11 edition of Colleen CPO's Blog.