Do you struggle with organization? To be honest my organizational skill seems to have its high points and low points. The worst is when I have been side tracked by being on evacuation notice, or some little hiccup like that. Here are some things that have really helped me over the years.
One of the best things you can do is a brain dump. Seriously, get all of those ideas and fragmented thoughts of what you need to do out of your head and onto paper. You can just start writing on a pad of paper, use a stack of sticky notes, use your computer, whatever works for you. You will still have things pop up in your head after you do the brain dump, that’s okay. Just add them to your lists.
Once you have a good list of items, split them into two lists. Projects and tasks. But first let me define what I mean by projects and tasks. Generally, when we think of projects we think of big things like “create a website”. Yes, this is a project, but so is “send holiday cards” which breaks down into tasks like: purchase cards; write notes/sign cards; address envelopes; buy stamps; mail cards.
Why is this important? Because “tasks” go on the to do list and “projects” go into planning. One of the biggest reasons we fail with our to do lists is we have projects on there. Projects are bigger than a task and we get either caught up in the details of the project or we put it off because it will take so much time or feels like such a big task.
Once you have all your projects in a single list it is time to deal with the tasks. At first the task list will likely be made up of little things we need to do like “make dentist appointment” or “clean out the fridge”. And many of these can be taken care of rather quickly if we just get to it.
Then it is time to deal with the project list. For small projects like the “send out holiday cards” which have just a few tasks, write those tasks down. For larger projects, write down the next two tasks that need to be done to move the project forward. Now you have a funnel of tasks to move to your daily to do list.
I know I have made this sound a bit simple. It is and it isn’t. The process is easy, but implementing it and following through can be difficult.
Good luck. And next time: Staying on Track (Part 2 – prioritizing what you need to do)