I have always been a list maker. Like you, I have a lot to do. Sometimes seemingly very disparate tasks: personal errands, family business, story editing, copy writing, essay writing, organizing a class I’m going to teach or a workshop I’m going to give, returning phone calls, getting to the post office before it closes. You know the drill.
Every time some kind of new technology seemed like a better way – any new idea, really – I tried it. Remember Palm Pilots? Tried that. It was more work to input my to-do list than to just do them. I tried using a whiteboard. A chalkboard. A fancy notebook. Various apps on my computer and iPhone.
Nothing is or was as effective as just plain writing it down. Boring, right? But for me – effective. I use small, lined yellow tablets and importantly, I write in pencil so I can erase and rearrange my list as often as I want.
I make one list at the beginning of each week and as the list gets added onto and messier and messier, I make at least two other versions down the line.
Something that really helps me is to make sure that my list reflects my priorities for the week or for each day. There are some things, in other words, that MUST be done or else. And others that would be nice but that can be pushed back a couple or more days.
Of course, you have to watch those tasks because pretty soon they pile up too.
I make sure that the things that can be done quickly, I tick off the list right away.
It also helps to know what your personal style is, when it comes to work. I am a binge worker, meaning I might very well have a day or two in which I seem to get almost nothing done and then work for 8 hours without moving and get completely caught up. I know that about myself, so I don’t beat myself up; if something really needs to get done – I do it.
Interestingly, for me anyway, with all the apps and technology in the world, sometimes a piece of paper and pencil really is the thing.
Prioritize what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly. Use technology like alerts on your Google calendar (or the like) and mostly? Be nice to you. Your list is there to help you stay organized, not to make you feel bad. So don’t let it.