November 18, 2011

To-Do Lists are from the Devil

Ok, that might be a little strong.  But in all seriousness, I really hate To-Do lists.  They drive me crazy and get mostly passed on from one day to the next without being done.  I don't think they actually help us very much.

One thing I've spent quite a bit of time getting good at, as a result of my Mary Kay business, is time management.  I am SO not the master I wish I were, but I do think I've developed some pretty good systems.  Therefore, today I thought I'd embrace irony, throw my schedule to the wind, and sit down to share with you a time management tip I've learned that has saved my sanity.

I quit using To-Do lists.  

Yup.  I did.  I decided never to have a To-Do list again.  I decided that if it was worth writing down to do, then it was worth putting it into my schedule and planning time to do it.  And that's how I got rid of my lists!  I have one calendar, which is detailed enough to plan in 15 minute increments. Not that I plan my whole day this way, but I could if I wanted to.  For a while I had a paper planner in which I used one page per day.  Now I use my Android to do this.  But whether you are a paper person or an electronic person, you can still use this system and get rid of your To-Do lists too!

Here's how it works.  Every time I think of something that needs to be done, rather than adding it to my ever-growing (now non-existent) list, instead I mentally assign a time in which I'm going to accomplish that task.  Then I open up my planner/schedule, and write it in.  Here's an example:  In the midst of cooking, I realized that I needed to return a key to someone who had loaned it to us, and I didn't want to forget.  Mentally I decided that a good time to do that would be the following day between two other errands.  Once my hands were free of the chicken, I washed them, quickly grabbed my phone, and added it into my schedule:  "Tuesday, 10:15 a.m.: drop off key."

At first, it took me longer (like three whole minutes) to decide when I was going to get a task done.  But as with any skill, the longer I used this system, the better I got, and now it takes me all of 20 seconds to go from realization that I need to do something, to scheduled and forgotten again.

Here's why I like this SOOOOO much better than lists.  First of all, my day is already planned and organized long before the sun rises, and I don't run out of time to do what I need to do nearly as often, because it's in my calendar so I don't schedule other things during that time.  Second of all, it's been assigned to a certain time, so I don't have to think about it again until it's time to do it.  Even when I kept organized, categorized lists of things to do, I still had to find time to review those lists and decide which tasks to complete.  This way, it's completely off my radar until I am getting the task done.  Lastly, no little pieces of paper floating all around!  It's great!

The one requirement to making this system work is that you must have a schedule/calendar that is easily accessible at all times.  Since I'm surgically attached to my Android, I found a scheduler/calendar that I like and downloaded the app for it.  I don't like the one that comes with the phone, so I downloaded the free version of the Touch Calendar.  If you're not an electronic person, you've gotta' be committed to keeping a paper calendar with you at all times...  But even when I did this, it was SO worth it!

There you go!  Welcome to a list-free life!  What sanity-saving techniques have you learned? Comment away...