It's About Time
Don’t keep to-do list in your head
'How is your New Year going?" I recently asked a client. He downheartedly replied, "I feel that I'm not getting enough done."
I know that feeling. It's an all-too-common one for many.
I asked why things weren't getting done. He thought the obvious reasons might be procrastination and lack of motivation.
As an organizer, I sensed a more basic reason might be lack of clarity about what exactly needs to be done. This is common, especially when we try to keep our to-do list in our brains.
I asked, "What needs to be done?" He began searching his brain and, one by one, drew out tasks and projects he was responsible for.
So I whipped out one of my Master To-Do List forms to capture what he was reciting. This simple one-page form is something I created for myself years ago when I was overwhelmed by all the to-do's I was trying to remember. It has nine blocks in which to write nine headings (i.e. action verbs, projects or clients) and space to write the tasks beneath.
Our brains have limited short-term memory capacity and are not a good place to keep our to-do lists. Besides, if you're the visual type, things in the brain are out of sight, out of mind and too easily forgotten.
One of the principles of being organized is to write things down. Many do write things down, but on scraps of paper or Post-Its that get mislaid. I advocate writing things down in an organized way in an organized place.
As my client verbally downloaded the to-do's from his brain, I captured each item on the form. Then he looked over the list. The most important tasks were obvious. Those were priority items that led to his and the company's goals, added meaning to his life and to the bottom line. Those tasks he wrote into his planner to do that day. Later he would extract from the list tasks to do tomorrow.
He agreed that knowing exactly what needs to be done provides direction and urgency. The clear direction gives motivation and the urgency decreases procrastination. After all, he wanted to see each item completed and checked off.
If you feel you aren't getting enough done, I encourage you to get your to-do list out of your head and write a Master To-Do List on paper, in your computer or PDA, and begin to do what needs to be done today.
While it's probably impossible to get everything done, if we can at least get the important things done, we can enjoy some satisfaction at the end of each day.
Happy accomplishing! See you in two weeks!
For a free copy of Ruth's Master To Do List form, send a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope to Organization Plus, 98-1155 Malualua St., Aiea 96701-2820.
"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong
, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org