Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Challenge #22 April 2013 - Lengthy Lists

Just the basics

I will write a ten item To-Do list every morning and try to accomplish everything on it each day.  (Yes, I actually said "everything" there)

"Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can."
-Arthur Ashe

So yeah, I tried to find some really cool quote about list-making and time management and efficiency and it just wasn't happening out there in Googlelandia (Got a great one?  Please post below).  But like Arthur said above, this challenge for me was basically about trying to get in the habit, every day, of planning, and is actually a continuation of last month's post about procrastination...welcome back to Get-it-DONE-fun!  So I tried to be super-consistent with writing my action item list down every single day - mostly first thing in the morning, and planning my days around accomplishing these ten (or sometimes an ambitious eleven or twelve!) tasks.  Do you make these kinds of lists? And did you know there is an entire blog based on the concept of To Do lists, wow!

How it Went
I think the idea was good, but the execution was not as easy as I thought it would be. At first it seemed easy because it was new (ten tasks vs. my previous five to seven MUST DO TODAY lists) and I was really focused on it.  I thought this would be a simple way to feel more accomplished about getting ALL the stuff (work, personal, random tasks, etc - anything goes here) that I most wanted to get done, done each day.  Overall it kinda worked, with most days accomplishing 8 to 9 (and a fair number of 10/10 days which were awesome!) items a day, then transferring the leftovers to the next day.  A few items were conspicuously forwarded to the next day, sometimes for a few days - like working on my new website, or crafting and sending a challenging email, or (sadly) sometimes even yoga if I just wasn't feeling up to it, sigh.  

Overall this process did keep me focused better, and less prone to distraction and all the little sidetrackeys that come my way throughout the day.  What I also found was just the process of pausing each morning before getting sucked into the day, and committing to the time it took to write it ALL down helped organize my thoughts around what was most important and what did really deserve to be on the list (pay taxes and return mom's phone call: YES, vs. clip fingernails and make bed: NO). And although I wasn't clever enough to write a fun task list like this, I sure would like to try some of these!

What was on all those Lists
30 days x 10 tasks a day totals 300 items minus approximately 15% "push-to-the-next-day or fail" = is about 255 things, whew!  But what really was all that stuff you (may) ask? Now at the end of the month it is actually hard to recollect specifics, and I didn't save them - it was just so satisfying to actually throw them out at the end of the day. Yes, they were physical pieces of paper, with hand drawn little boxes next to each item, not just bullet points. I love making a big X in all those boxes, very satisfying!  I  Other than work related, deadline oriented stuff (which usually made up about half the list), there was far-ranging stuff like work outs, personal calls or emails, errands, etc.  When you add up everything you do throughout a day, it is no doubt be more than ten tasks, but the point was to be more conscious of planning the day out in advance (helpful for us self-employed types), and trying to make sure the distractions stay mostly in the background until the priorities are handled, a constant battle.

Do you make (big or little) To Do lists regularly?  And are they in priority order?  What works for you?