I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything I want to do in the near future:
- write an amazing two-week curriculum unit on Personal Finance
- mentor my volunteers more closely
- clean my office till it’s sparkly
- devise a better system for collecting and submitting volunteer stats
- have a balanced and from-scratch meal plan that I follow
- completely deep-clean my apartment
- get my TEFL from Hamline
- start another 5 Week Course
- have friends over for dinner
- run/walk everyday
- actually follow a laundry schedule
- read and write more
- continue to spend quality time with my long-distance family and boyfriend
- start a pre-literate class at my learning center
- reach out to the other people in my life more
- start a peer-mentoring project with another coordinator
- learn Somali
- conduct numerous site visits to sites like mine and other sites that work with my students
- roll my newsletter into a new, more professional format
I didn’t think about that list for very long. That’s what it looks like off the top of my head.
Conventional wisdom says “just pick something and start.” I have. And it’s something. I’m trying a new chili recipe as we speak, and I’ve been working on several other of the above personal and professional goals, as well as others that aren’t really blog material.
The problem isn’t starting (for once); it’s wanting it to all be in line Now.
So I’m going to go see how the chili turned out, and put on my running shoes, throw my laundry in this evening, and ponder curriculum as the machines are going, and remember that I’ll get there inch by inch.
'notice the restless bag of clothes' by revecca on Flickr
I have had bags of clothes sitting in my apartment waiting for me to donate them for something like a year. Maybe longer. And last week, I finally donated them.
It was one of those unfortunate tasks that was neither important nor urgent but that would take more than a few minutes. So I just sort of stopped seeing the bags of clothes being slowly shredded by my cats. When I did occasionally notice them, it was never a good time to dive into such a big project (?) so I left them for “later.”
The factor that started me tackling this silly little project with its surprisingly large impact on my living space was a conversation that became a plan. Those things are powerful.
At work, I’ll periodically get this sinking feeling that I’m forgetting to do something.
Juggling Now, Soon, and In Two Months is hard for me – they don’t feel like they should be on the same list. Also, a list with 25 things on it, some huge and some small, can be kind of scary.
Pen and Paper by LucasTheExperience on Flickr
I’ve tried Checkvist and liked it, and I’ve tried Google Calendar Tasks, but the main problem with both is two-fold: it doesn’t feel concrete to me when it’s electronic, and I can avoid the list by just not opening the list’s webpage. Lifehacker has an interesting poll on the five best To-Do List Managers, and for them as for me, pen and paper won.
My latest strategy:
- Write down every task or project I can think of. I work on this for a day or so to ensure it’s as complete as possible.
- Estimate time per task. In the left margin, I write in the estimated minutes it will take. This step eliminates a lot of “this list is scary!” for me. “60 minutes of stats” is easier for me to tackle than “annoyingly time-consuming volunteer stats.”
- Rewrite the list in two columns: Longer Term and Shorter Term. I fill in some details like due dates and collaborators in Longer Term. I just make a plain bulleted list of the shorter-term projects (which are usually 60 minutes or less). The process of rewriting it helps me internalize it.
- Circle my first four tasks. This way I can evaluate what my next priority is in a quick and ongoing way.
- Check them off when they’re done. It feels gooood.
- Keep my list in plain sight. The list lives just to the left of my computer. It does not get put away, it does not travel, it does not get buried. And it gets more and more crossed off until it’s done.
It’s not perfect. I think they keys that make it work for me are that I sit down and really think about it in terms of minutes and that it’s always on my desk and in my face.
What makes a To-Do system work for you?