Monday, March 4, 2013


Recently (meaning last night), I was really fed up with feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I felt I needed to do and my total inability to get any of it done. I'm sure no one else ever feels this way.

The obvious solution (in addition to ranting to Abe for 1 1/2 hours) was to make a list. Here's the brain dump from last night. Complete with the beginnings of doodles in the upper right and lower left corners. Lists are very therapeutic for me, and I managed to sleep well that night.

But I knew I couldn't really plan around this jumble of jotted notes - in red ink nonetheless. So I came up with a super-exciting (okay, lower your expectations - I am still just talking about lists) way to organize my list of "everything to do in life".

Ta da!

That's right. I turned one list into five lists! And I typed and printed it in black ink.

Really, though, it worked for me. Here's what I did.

First, I separated out the items on the list that were more like life goals ("be a better person" or "go to bed on time more often"). I called these "Ongoing".

Second, I sorted the remaining items by "Quick and Easy" and "Long and Hard". The difference between the two is a bit mushy. But some things are pretty clear: "find a realtor" and "do my taxes" are both Long and Hard. On the other hand, "buy a gift" and "organize the hall closet" are pretty Quick and Easy.

Third, I sorted those two sets of goals into "Essential" and "Nice to Have". More examples: "get a California driver's license" is essential. But "read the top 5 books for museum professionals" would just be nice to have (if you are me).

The result was four lists (in addition to the "Ongoing" list).

1. Quick & Easy / Essential things. These are top priority.
2. Long & Hard / Essential things. These are also a top priority, but I know I don't have to get frustrated if it takes a while to get them checked off the list.
3. Quick & Easy / Nice to have. These are medium priority.
4. Long & Hard / Nice to have. These are low priority.

Of course, the first thing I did after making this new super-great prioritization tool was go spend an hour working on one of the Long & Hard / Nice to have items. Turns out a lot of these are the most fun. But at least I was aware of the choice I was making... Plus I got to eat a brownie and ice cream while I worked on it.


Megan said...

When we were in the middle of moving I made a to-do list similar to your red ink one, but I lost it. That is probably for the better, but it would be nice to have. I like your idea of grouping tasks into categories. On a positive note I did my taxes tonight. Next up is to finish our claim from our November 2011 robbery. Maybe I should put that one off a little longer.

Whitehead Family Fun said...

I love lists and projects. They make me so happy! Granted I am just getting 'busy' again after having a baby. It usually takes me six months. I have to do lists on excel but I like the idea of printing them off and having them where I can see them more clearly.