Wednesday, March 2

Grace Gets It Together: The Working To-Do List

As I mentioned last week I've been going through a self-improvement phase. Truthfully, I go through a lot of these. I am like a manic-depressive type A personality. Some days I am full-on need to be organized, clean, and perfectly put together while other days I let the cards fall where they may and will and do. The degree to which I procrastinate often determines which phase I am in. It's exhausting living like that. You can commiserate right? Which is why I'm trying to kick to the procrastination habit and I'm bringing you along for the ride. It's just what you've always wanted I'm sure.

First things first, my to-do list. I always thought a to-do list was the key to getting things done. I've am the queen of to-do lists, post-it notes, and all things that involved writing stuff down on paper. But honestly, that's all it really ever amounted to: words on paper. My to-do list never seemed to get shorter and it never really helped me complete my tasks. It was more like a nagging reminder of all the crap I needed to do. Inspired by Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" (Good book) I decided to turn my to-do list into a game plan.

More specifically I focused on the 3rd habit, "first things first". The focus of this habit was the importance of assigning a value and time for tasks. I started small and implemented some changes to how I prioritize and schedule my tasks at work but I am hoping to expand it to my personal and financial life as well.

Here is an example of what my work to-do list used to look like:


It's a mess, many things to do with no concept of time, and maybe a few doodles.

Now it looks like this:



• On the right page(top)I make my to-do list. I try to set up as much as I can on Friday and then add to it as the week goes on.
• Then on the left (bottom) I make column for each day of the week. Within the columns I write key dates, deadlines, or events that will take time away from completing tasks.

• Once that is complete, I fill in 3-4 items from my to-do list for each day of the week. I've found that depending on the depth and time required to complete a project I can usually accomplish 3-4 per day. This could be different for you.

• As the week goes on I have the ability to cross things off when I am done, move them to different days if another task takes priority,

Here is an example from a full week:

So what do you think of my working to-do list? I've been using it for about a month and it's helped me tremendously with staying on top of my work. I've also noticed that seeing what I've accomplished each day helps me stay motivated.
So what are your tricks for staying on top of your to-do's?

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