“What’s the best to-do list system,” someone recently asked on Facebook, “that will make sure I get things done??” Several people listed a variety of ideas, including brand-name binders. My advice? Don’t LIST your to-do items – SCHEDULE them!
A to-do LIST, no matter how intricate the system and no matter how fancy the paper, will NOT ensure you get it done.
Scheduling your to-do items WILL!
What does this mean? Every time you have a to-do item that will take more than 5-10 minutes to do, schedule it on your calendar, just like it’s an appointment with yourself – preferably an online calendar like Google that syncs with a calendar app on your phone.
- Any task that takes more than 10 minutes to do requires even more time to get into the task (mentally and physically), complete it, and get on to the next one. (For example, a “quick” phone call…remember the subject…get in the right frame of mind…make the call…get put on hold…finish the call…follow up.) I see 20 minutes already…
- Each day you have less than 8 hours where you aren’t already busy or already committed to meetings/appointments, etc. That’s less than 16-24 available slots of 20-30 minutes each for to-do items every day.
- A paper calendar can be forgotten, get lost, get destroyed. An online calendar is in the cloud. It’s on your phone. Lose or damage your phone? You can access it from anyone’s computer, anywhere. (I’ve taught time management since the old days of Franklin Planners. Remember losing one of those?)
- Most important: a paper calendar or list doesn’t REMIND you to do the task. It sits on your desk, purse/pocket, etc. With an online calendar, you can set any number of advance reminders for every task. It’s like having a live assistant – but for free!
- Even if you use a list-type app, it doesn’t take into account all the appointments and meetings you have scheduled that day. You can’t see that you’re overscheduling yourself with an ever-expanding list…
- You can easily reprioritize and move to-do items from one date to another.
- And one of my favorite reasons…you can copy and paste as many details as you need into the body of the appointment – phone numbers, names, notes, descriptions, etc. – so that it’s all in one place!
What does this look like?
What do you think? Have you tried this? Questions, problems, other ideas? Please share them here! Need help getting started? Contact Organize Me!