Organizing Theory & Artistry

Summer To Do Lists

2015-06-16-todo-montage

Summer is one of those natural “restart” points of the year. The weather is warmer and particularly for those of us with children, the change from school schedule to summer schedule is a chance to rethink our life goals and priorities.

As I sat down thinking about my goals for the summer, I felt overwhelmed. I began creating calendars and checklists but realized that with a major life change (the addition of another child), I needed to upgrade my time management system. In my current system, I put things in my calendar, write project-based tasks down in multiple places and keep a lot of stuff in my head.

So, I am turning to the experts for help.

Recently, I attended Stever Robbins’ excellent webinar

Stever has a great approach to time management, realizing that it is not just about logistics and planning but also your goals, personality and general approach to life. You can listen to the webinar yourself for free at the above link.

In the webinar, Stever emphasizes 3 necessary behavior changes to be an effective user of To Do lists.

1. Create a capture system and carry it with you. You have to have one and only one spot where you “capture” your to do items as they arise. For Stever, this is a hard copy moleskine notebook. It could be an Evernote tab, an Excel spreadsheet a phone app of various kinds or a sheet of paper. Whatever you use, you should have it with you at nearly all times. So, when you think “Oh yeah, I really should get around to doing X,” you write down X in your capture system.

2. Create and maintain a Master To Do List. You should have one and only one master to do list where you organize and prioritize the projects you have captured. Again, this can be paper or electronic but probably electronic is going to work best for most people since this document will be updated continuously.

3. Use your Master List. When you want to know what to do next, you need to get in the habit of referring to your list rather than checking email or addressing whatever “emergency” has just arisen.

I am just in the baby steps of this system. I am still “capturing” tasks in my head and in random places. I am trying to put them all in Evernote. Evernote is currently also serving as my “Master” list but also my Google calendar where I schedule in specific tasks. Over time, I will experiment with different To Do list formats to see what works best.

My broad goals for the summer include:

  • weight loss – losing most or all of my pregnancy weight
  • managing the renovation of the exterior of our home
  • homeschool – finishing testing and this year’s curriculum as well as planning for next year

Any one of these could be a “To Do” for an entire summer. Naturally, I am trying to do all three!

As with all organizing tasks, this one is likely to take a while to adjust to my lifestyle but I am committed to improving my time management skills.

Do you have a capture system and master to do list? What challenges do you face with to do lists? Please share in the comments.