It happens to all of us: that creeping feeling of overwhelm as the tasks pile up, coming in via mail, email, voicemail, texts. Your head is over-stuffed with details and surely you’re going to forget something!
There is an extremely simple tool which is the starting place for any task or time management system: the LIST. The power of this basic tool is manyfold:
- Gathers all your tasks in one place
- Gives you a birds-eye view on everything
- Allows you to categorize and prioritize tasks visually
- Can create as many or few lists as needed to manage the different projects in your life
- Work projects
- Client follow-up
- Home design/repair ideas
- Travel plans
- Kid’s activities
How you create and manage a list is up to you – a simple piece of paper works just fine! If you want to get fancier, here are more options:
- Task/List Apps: Trello, Google Tasks, Wunderlist, Evernote, OneNote
- Bullet journal
- Post-its on a wall, on a paper in a file, on a white board
- White boards for temporary lists
- Project management apps: Asana, BaseCamp, Microsoft Project
Going digital with your list has some advantages of being able to share with others, color code, and to include formats beyond text. Each mode has pros & cons; pick a mode that works best for you. And don’t be afraid to go as simple as possible.
To start, grab a pad of paper and do a big brain dump of everything on your mind and on your plate. How do you prioritize?
- What’s stressing you out the most? Ask yourself: “If one thing got done on here, that would make me feel a relief of pressure, what would it be?”
- Which things have an actual deadline and what’s due next?
- When feeling unmotivated to get things done, look at the list and pick a few short, easy things to knock off just to reduce the volume.
And yes, you do need to keep updating them! This process of having to re-write your list is actually a valuable part of the process. The act of reviewing and revisiting tasks gives you the opportunity to reflect on their priority.