Monday, July 6, 2009

tackling your to-do list

How do you tackled your to-do list when you are overwhelmed and don't know where to start?

Make a list: I write out everything I need to do, and list out the components of a task if it’s too general. ‘Spring cleaning’ is too vague- I break that down into individual tasks so I can estimate how much time each one will take. Then I prioritize the list. Ideally, I’d try to do one high priority a day and if time permits, a quick low/medium priority item.

Review: Each morning, I review the list. Knowing what's on the list helps me take advantage of unexpected opportunities to tackle one of the items. My favorite software for lists are Google documents and I can access those anywhere, they complement my Google calendar, and they can text me reminders. I also auto-populate reminders in my calendar for semi-annual items such as checking my credit report. If one day is so busy I can’t get to my list, I double up the next day. Items are crossed off the list as soon as they are done.

Do it smart: I bundle like tasks together. For example, if I’m running to drop off the dry cleaning, I’ll hit the bank right next door or I will clean out the fridge right before we do our next grocery shopping trip. If I can take a lunch break one week to knock out 4 errands, that’s worth it to me. I add to the list as I go along—including fun, relaxing and necessary things to make sure I am making the time to take care of me.

Bite size: I break it down into manageable bite sizes, and commit to at least 20 minutes a day to do what needs to be done. If a single task (ie: organize my closet) is overwhelming, then I break it down into tasks that can wrangle it under control.

So I might start with:

  1. Remove laundry from closet, and do it as you can.
  2. Remove items that are awaiting repair from closet into a designated box.
  3. Drop off any items needing dry cleaning.
  4. Organize shoes.
  5. Organize purses.
  6. Look for items you no longer wear- and figure out why you aren’t wearing them. Decide to store, donate or repair.
  7. Evaluate current storage methods and find out why it’s not working (do you need a better system? more shelves or boxes?)

Create zones: I also create zones that I can clean easily- I may not have 90 minutes in one sitting to clean my room, but I can spend a quick 15-20 minutes focused time tidying up my desk or wiping down the bath before bed.

Take care of you: Get enough sleep, sex and exercise. Eat well. Snuggle. It just helps you deal better when you feel overwhelmed and unmotivated.

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