“How do you stay so organized?”
This question has been following me around since I can remember. Though I’m not sure how my passion for staying organized started, I’m sure growing up with a very organized grandma helped (thanks, Grandma J). Staying organized has helped me streamline processes and accomplish goals both at work and home. I want to share some tips that might be able to translate to you and your work.
A simple method that helps me to stay organized is utilizing a to-do list. Below are some tips on how to keep your to-do list functional and manageable.
5 Steps to Make Your To-Do List Work for You
1) Find a medium that works for you. Determine how to keep track of your list according to your lifestyle. Would you prefer using pen and paper so that your list is physically in front of you? Would it be better to keep an electronic list on your phone for your on-the-go lifestyle? Use method works best for you. (There are plenty of apps that you can download to help you manage your to-do list. An app called Quip was introduced to me on my first day working for Nonprofit Network and I’ve been using it ever since. Check it out.)
2) Make a weekly master list and a daily list. Start each week by making a master list of everything that you need to accomplish for the week. Then each day create a daily list. Write down everything that you have to do that day on your list (include meetings, tasks, appointments…everything that you can think of). This will help you plan your day (and get the satisfaction of crossing items off your to-do list once a task is accomplished).
3) Be realistic. Do not overwhelm yourself. Reality check – you may not be able to accomplish 15 tasks in one day. Highlight the top three things you need to get done that day and do them. It is important to recognize that life happens. There is only so much time in a day. Something unexpected may happen (you may get interrupted several times, the phone might ring off the hook…You get the idea). If you did not accomplish a task that you were hoping to do today, do it first thing tomorrow.
4) Break it down! If you have a large project to tackle, break down everything that needs to be done in order to accomplish that project. It may seem silly, but laying out the individual tasks allows you to process out and recognize everything that is required for the project. After writing down each task, the project may seem bigger or smaller than you originally expected. By seeing each step required, it will help you to better plan and manage your time.
5) Prepare a to-do list before you leave work. The last thing I do before I leave work for the day is make a to-do list for the next day. I transfer anything I did not get done today to the next day’s list and write down new tasks that I need to accomplish. This helps me set my expectations for the next day. Bonus – when I walk into the office the next day, my to-do list is right there, ready and waiting for me to dive in.
There’s something satisfying about crossing tasks off of your to-do list. I hope these tips will help you to organize your to-do list in a way that allows you to take charge and tackle your day with a smile.
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