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How to get sh** done with a To-do list

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The To-Do List

She(WMBO) swears by them. She makes one for herself everyday. She is always on me to do the same because I never seem to get enough accomplished for her likes. I make snide remarks about her Lists that she leaves next to the coffee maker many mornings, but they do work.

I think I should do to-do lists. So I did a little looking around at various sources and consulted with my local resident expert in such things and I came up with this list of things to do for a to-do list.

1. Decide how you want to keep it. The classics: Paper and pencil? Modern: The iPhone App? I came with the phone even and has a share function. Not sure I want to do that because things may suddenly show up I didn't put there.

2. Several lists. One each for short term, intermediate, and long term projects. Today, this week, this month. Of course there is always the Bucket List. My sister has everyone's birthdays on her calendar. All twelve of us, our spouses and our children and grandchildren. I hate my sister.

3. Simplicity. Lists with too many rings to do are intimidating. I can't do 25 things today. I can do five or six. That's the advantage of having other lists, I can pull stuff from those lists if I really want something to do.

4. Prioritize. List Most Important Tasks and make sure they get done.

5. Do the simple stuff right away. Empty the dishwasher. Really how long does that take? I can do that while my eggs cook. Fold the laundry. I hate the laundry, but it is my job. And really it only take a couple of minute.

6. Break up major tasks. This could go with simplicity. I am preparing to have hardwood installed so I have to take up the carpets. And fix any bad areas of the subfloor. And pull the staples. And take up the tack strips. And bust up the ugly tile in the kitchen. and. and. and. But just saying "Prepare the floor for the installers. " is too simple.

7. Be specific. Some things cannot be done by one person. She(WMBO) hasn't allowed me to touch a paintbrush in about 35 years. I messed up one project and now I am not allowed to paint. There is a method to my madness. But now is the time to paint. But before she can paint, I have to plaster/patch. So "Paint" is too broad.

8.Include needed information. If I need to call for a dumpster, I need to have the phone number of the Big Yellow Dumpster Company before monday morning. Wasting time on Google looking up the number is, well, a waste of time.

9. Time. Some things need a time limit. Some things require a time of day. I could stretch out laundry sorting to 60 minutes if I wanted to watch a TV show. But it's really a 20 minute job. And if I need to call Mike in LA at 10:00, I need a reminder that 10:00 is actually 1:00.

10. Make it public. It is suggested that sharing list give me accountability that I need. But it also means that I expose myself to questions of "What did you actually DO today?" I hate accounting for my time.

11. Schedule scheduling. Hey, it takes time to make a list. Making a to-do list is a to-do list item.

12. Me-time. I run. I find that if I have a long list, I tend to put my running at the bottom of the pile. In fact, I was supposed to run 13 miles on Friday and because of thing I felt absolutely compelled to get done I ran 0 miles on Friday.

13. Track progress. Cross stuff off as you get it done.

14. Keep old lists. If I can look at yesterday's list, or last week's list I can actually see that, yes, yes I did accomplish something.

15. Start fresh. Make a new list everyday. Have as few carry overs as possible.

16. Be realistic and flexible. Have time on your list for the unforeseen stuff like the washer overflowing or one of the kids has an Internet emergency.

OK. Now the number one thing on my next to-do list is to start keeping to-do lists.

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