I often get asked how I manage to do so much with my time. It isn’t a magical power, it’s careful organization and time management. So here’s a tip from Dad to help transform your to-do list from something that creates anxiety into an organized plan of attack to reclaim your day.
I have a pad or notebook that always stays with me. It’s on my desk when I’m at the office and in my bag when I’m not. Everything that comes up gets added to the list.
The first thing I do to items on the list is to prioritize them into one of three buckets: high, medium, and low priority. High priority items are the ones that need my attention first, and they are highlighted in yellow in this example. Medium priority items are important, but not quite as urgent, and they are in blue. Low priority items are things that need work but fall into the “I’ll get to it if I can” category, and they are green. I maintain the same color pattern to make it easier to use my list as a quick reference point.
On the left side you see a P and a D as the first two columns. This is how I keep everything organized for my schedule. P indicates that the item is in my paper planning calendar (that I always keep with me). D indicates that the time has been added to my digital calendar. You might be asking why I do both, because it may see redundant. Let me explain.
I am always moving, and I have more than one digital calendar; One is for personal things, one is for nonprofit work, and one is for my job. That’s why I always carry a paper day planner. My day planner has all of my appointments and events in it, so it is my first point of reference during the day. I keep a Post-It note inside the front cover to jot down reminders throughout the day, and use the day planner as a reference when making plans.
At the end of each workday, I sit down for 15 minutes with my day planner, my to-do list, and my computer. This is when I prioritize things for the next day and add items to my paper and digital calendars. Keeping my schedule in two places reduces the possibility of missing an important appointment. The paper calendar is always there, even if my phone or computer are inaccessible, and the digital calendar makes it easy to set alarms and reminders to keep me on schedule.
Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.