To Do or Not to do a List?

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Professional Organizer Albuquerque, Time Management | 0 comments

To Do or Not to do a List?

I love to make lists.
Having a list helps me to:
 Not forget tasks. A list eliminates what I call “brain static.” The “I know I have to do something, but I can’t remember what it is” feeling. Dumping everything onto a list allows my brain to calm down and focus.
 Prioritize. When what I need, and want, to accomplish is written down, I can decide what is most important. This keeps me from only doing things I enjoy and ignoring the tasks I don’t like. It also keeps me from focusing only on today’s tasks. When I have “plan Australia trip” written down, I also have a reminder that my bucket list item needs to get started now if it’s going to become a reality.
 Stay accountable. When something is written down I’m forced to make a decision. Will I do it now, push it to another time, or delete it from my list? If it’s on my list, I know I’ll either have to eventually get it done, or decide I’m not going to do it.
 Refocus when unexpected events occur. I don’t have to start over trying to remember what I was working on before things got crazy. “It’s hard to remember that your project was to drain the swamp when you’re up to your neck in alligators.” With my list, I can get back to draining the swamp. Having a list also lets me reschedule and reprioritize tasks based on the time I now have available.
 Divide big tasks like “revise website” into small chunks that I can accomplish and plan time to get them done. The sum of a large task is overwhelming. The small tasks that add up to completing the job are less daunting. “Plan Australia trip” is a huge task. Renewing my passport is a small, doable step.
 Build habits. I put things on my list that I still have to think about doing, such as my physical therapy exercises. It’s like a chore chart for my grown-up self. I often help my clients make lists to build the habits that will keep them organized.
 Be happier. This is the most important reason I use a list. It turns out that completing a task and checking it off not only releases feel good brain chemicals, but also motivates us to keep working to continue getting those great feelings. Sort of a runner’s high without the sweat.
To effectively use a to do list it has to contain everything you want to do, including the fun stuff. I make a short-term task list of things to get it done today or this week. My medium range list holds items until they are moved to the short-term list. Mine has “clean up the garden” and “make Christmas ornaments.” My longer-term list includes “scan family pictures” and, of course, “plan trip to Australia.”

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