Like many people, I’ve got stuff that must be done: bills to pay, people to see, floors to clean, you know the drill. And like many people, I find it’s easy to let things slip away if I don’t stay organized. I’m a big believer in “to do lists,” because it’s easy to see what you’ve done and what needs to be done. However, it’s easy to let the chaos of your everyday life spill over into your list.
I’ve got two main methods for keeping a to do list. The first is the “4 boxes” method. I take a piece of notebook paper and divide it into quarters. The first box is labeled Personal, and here’s where I write stuff I have to do for myself:
- Take vitamins
- Make hair appointment
- Finish reading “Diary of a Mad Fat Girl”
- Call Jane to set up lunch for next week
Box two is for things I do for my family:
- Defrost meat for dinner
- Pay bills
- Clean floors
- Confirm weekend plans
Box 3 and 4 are flexible, and you can do with them what you like. Perhaps yours are Work and School or Charity. If your job is pretty much the same thing every day, you probably won’t need a box for it. I’m my own business, so I need two! My third box is Client Service, things I do for my existing clients:
- Schedule home inspection on Crescent Canyon
- Get purchase offer to Johnstons
- Where are signed docs on La Palma Pkwy?
- Update automated search for Williams
That leaves box 4 for Lead Generation/Follow-Up:
- Get mailer out
- Call Goldbergs
- First meeting w Hendersons at 11
- Floor duty 12-2
Go ahead and write it all down, but pay particular attention to stuff you don’t do everyday — unless you’re trying to build a new good habit or it’s something you tend to forget. Happily put small things down for the express purpose of crossing it off and feeling good about it.
On the other hand, if you get overwhelmed by a large list like this, I’ve got a new trick that seems to be working well. A motivational speaker came to my office and suggested writing down only the top 5 things that absolutely have to be done today. Well, it occurred to me that not much more than 5 items will fit on a sticky-note. You can stick it to your phone, inside your date book, to the sun visor of your car, to your desk, or pretty much any other place you’ll see it a dozen times a day. Ok, sometimes I cram 6 or even 7 items onto that note. They get done, and that’s the important part.
Ok, ready for In Closing?: resume; clear your search history; and we pay the bill; fat is not the enemy; inflation; the agenda; if they’re following the rules, they have nothing to worry about; and Occupy is still out there.