The most important part of my planner is my action/to do list. My jobs have typically required me to handle a myriad of tasks. I learned a long time ago that I had to have a way to keep track of items that I was responsible for. Certainly, trying to remember them in my head did not work!
I've changed my process over the years but it's still really simple: write down every task that needs to be acted upon and write them all in the same place. I've found that it only takes a few minutes out of my day to faithfully write down every request that I need to act on. If I do that, I never have to worry about forgetting to do something. This simple idea has saved the day many times over the years.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get organized and stay on top of your tasks.
- Get rid of your sticky notes. If you're a sticky note user my first word of advice is to get rid of those! That sounds hardcore, doesn't it? I do have a couple of good reasons why I recommend you stop using them. First, sticky notes have a way of getting lost. They are sticky and you never know what they might get stuck to! Before you know it, you're missing that really important sticky note--you know, the one that has a phone number that you desperately need? Secondly, using sticky notes as your main way to capture action items doesn't work well in the long run. Not only could you lose them, sticky notes don't last. You want to use a system that maintains history. In other words, what if you need to go back to something you did last month (or last year)? You can't do that with sticky notes but you can do that with your action list (paper or electronic).
- Keep it simple. Find a way to record these items that works for you. For some people, the perfect answer might be Evernote (the best app ever). For others, it might be as simple as a spiral bound notebook. For those who love personal planners, you should have all sorts of ways to record to do items. There's no right or wrong way to do this just determine what sort of tool you plan to use.
- Start today. If you have sticky notes and notes written on small bits of paper, get everything together and record every item that you need to take action on. You'll not only get rid of a bunch of clutter, you'll feel 100% better knowing that everything is now in one place.
- Review. This is a key component to make this work. It is not helpful to have your tasks all written down if you never review the list. Keep your list nearby and accessible and regularly review your uncompleted tasks. It's also nice to go back and see just what you've accomplished! You might be surprised!
In my next blog post, I'll write a bit about how you may want to evenutally categorize your action list to make it/them even more effective.
Until then, share how you stay organized. I'd love to hear about the way you track tasks!