16 March 2012

Peacefully Managing Your To Do List

I think we all live somewhere in the balance between trying to take charge of our lives and letting life happen to us. It never works perfectly 100 percent either way. Managing the middle is always a challenge in life: finding our comfortable place somewhere near the balanced center.

Every day we have the choice to find that place of sanity in the middle. Some days despite our best plans, our To Do lists and our sincere desires things take a different turn. And I believe when this happens they are meant to. Most often I find that the days when things go completely not as expected usually end up being taken over by things that are more important and more fulfilling. It's good to make peace with these days.

Here's an approach I am trying to help me stay in the middle. Every morning as part of my morning ritual I make a To Do list. I often start these the night before. I include every little but important task for the day. My list is usually about 20 items long. This includes all the small elements of my morning ritual, so that is five items right there that are accomplished in about 30 minutes.

Then I go about my day as quickly as possible crossing items off the list. I love to cross items off lists. Best feeling ever. Some days when I don't feel as motivated as I'd like to I make each item on the list a very small one and then start crossing things off in 5 minute blocks of effort. That usually gets me going for the big stuff.

For those days when the unexpected happens or for the items I don't get to I simply draw an arrow on the right side of the item, indicating it's being moved to the future. It's not a fail that it didn't get done, it's a note to self that this has been prioritized to be better accomplished the next day or on another day.

There's no failing a To Do list. It is a great help to focus the day. And I am finding more and more that when I take charge of my day, regardless of what does or does not get accomplished I am always still moving towards my goals and getting more done that I would without a list and some direction.

How do you use your To Do list? Does it frustrate you? Keep you on task? I'd love to hear what works for you! Please leave a comment.

image by kalanicut



You morning ritual looks great.

I love to.do.lists. I am working on a new one and will post it later. I am known to add spontaneous things to my list (after I did them), just so I can cross them off.

I like the intentionality of your system, Kalani.


kalanicut said...

Good to know I am in good company adding anything I can after the fact. Love that feeling!

Kelly said...

I have a little code on my "to do" lists too so that I can reassign things for the next day. When the list is too long, I go back and try to figure out which ones are the #1 priorities and which ones can wait. Having permission to change it really helps.

Pippa said...

Paper to-do lists don't always work for me (especially when I lose them!), so I've turned to www.teuxdeux.com. For some reason I find it fun, you can create both daily and long term to-do lists, and yes, you get to cross them off when you're done. :)

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