Sunday, August 1, 2010

The TAH DAH! List

When I first started this blog eighteen months ago, the initial idea was to answer the question I get often which is, "How do you do it all?"   Since then, there certainly have been plenty of posts about how I don't do it all that well all the time.

Still, I like to think I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Okay, so some of them aren't exactly rocket science. It's more about the consistency of action. Good habits. Organization. Et cetera.

One of my very favorite tools is the TO DO list.  Simple, I know.  When life gets crazy and stressful, that's when we need simplicity the most.

There have definitely been times when I felt like I was going to throw up thinking about everything that had to get done in the day or the week or before a certain deadline.  Somehow keeping an organized list of all these tasks provides a special perspective, which is much needed at these times.

Personally it helps me to see on paper that it's really not so bad after all.  Okay, so sometimes it really is that bad.  Still, it's helpful not to have all that "stuff" swirling around in my head.

I've tried a lot of different organizers and pre-fab lists over the years and have finally settled on a simple 7x10 spiral bound blank notebook.  Maybe it's just me but the more formal systems stressed me out.  Plus, I like the idea of throwing the old list away each time I make a clean new one.  (That might be my OCD actually.)

Here are some other logistical details for what works for me:
  • keep different pages or columns for WORK to-do's vs. PERSONAL to-do's
  • organize tasks by similarities, i.e. for work, I group tasks per client or project; for home I group cleaning tasks vs. finance tasks vs. tasks per kid, etc...
  • be sure to include "me time" items on there, i.e. workout, blogging
  • file any emails related to the items on my list in a special TO DO personal folder in Outlook
  • check off items as they are accomplished (and move the emails into their respective personal folders by project/client or sender)
  • add items to the list as they come up; usually from scribbled notes on later pages
  • rewrite / reorganize the list as the last thing I do before bed (or first thing when I get to work, or when I realise it's been a few days and my list is a mess.)
I would love to know if you use "to do" lists and what works best for you!

My mother-in-law recently told me that the first thing on her to do list is always, "Make to do list."  This provides her with the immediate gratification of checking off one item right away.  Check.  One thing down. Yay!

It might be helpful to know that my mother-in-law is like Tinkerbell.  She needs applause in order to live.  I totally get it.  

There's such a great feeling of accomplishment which comes from checking things off the list.  In fact, I think I'll start calling it a "TAH DAH!" list now instead of a "to do" list.   Love it.

There is also the famous "honey do" list.  You know... that list of stuff you want your special someone to accomplish.  Today please. This year maybe?  Somehow they just can't be trusted to get it done without a helpful nudge from their schmoopie.  

Personally, I make lists for Big D as rarely as possible.  Trust me, there are days I would really love to unleash my inner control freak.  It's just not the best recipe for marital bliss.   Not to mention that Big D. suffers from a common ailment which afflicts many men:
Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)
     Man yells upstairs to wife, "Honey, I'm going down to clean my workbench!"

     Ten seconds later, man is left unsupervised in basement... "Oh look - shiny object!" 

     And so, five years later the workbench is still a mess.

Call me lazy; I'd rather live with a messy workbench in my basement than nag 24/7.    Nagging is not on my "to do" list.  And, certainly not worthy of being on a TAH DAH! list.  

I almost had an epiphany about only putting things on my list which, when completed, are worthy of a TAH DAH!   But then reality set in and I realised that sometimes there are things that need to get done sans applause. 

Sorry Tinkerbell.

What's on your TAH DAH! list today??
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Lamonica Epps said...

You gave some really good tips about how to organize a to do list. I used to have a to do list but I stopped writing down the things I need to do. I do agree having a to do list is very helpful and I will probably start creating my own to do list again. Your blog post was very informative and helpful.

Stopping by from SITS

TC said...

SOS, I can't WAIT to use that one?
You mean you didn't actually SAY that to your husband? LOL Mine doesn't do lists either.

I'm better about my lists but I still do them when I'm going on a trip or having a large party etc. I used to do them daily, have them cross referenced...I eventually started losing lists and not being able to function..
I have a dog and a grandson like your mother in law...needs applause to survive...
Oh and big party lists...somewhere between buy food and relandscape lawn I realize I've bit off a BIT more than I can chew...
have a good week...
I really like to end like this?.......

Charlene said...

Thanks Lamonica - always happy to meet a new SITStah!

TC - hmmm... not sure I've ever said that to his FACE but I guess he knows now!!

Argentum Vulgaris said...

I understand SOS perfectly, I am a male after all. I just included it in a post on Life is Just Like That... linked of course.

Have a good weekend.


Sarah said...

I didn't know men have sos as well. I'm exhausted from a busy weekend, so there's only 'take a nap' on my list today.

webb said...

Couldn't survive without both personal and work To Do lists. They keep me from obsessing about what needs to be done. Frequently when something is keeping me awake at night, I get up and make a list and voila' back to sleep. I use Daytimer with a sticky pad list they make - two per week. Add new tasks and check them off. love it!

bernicewood said...

I like to use a system similar to David Allen's Getting Things Done. I have a list for things for different contexts, such as: calls, on the computer, errands, shopping list, things to ask my daughter the next time I talk to her, etc.

Does anyone here actually add something they already did to their list so you have the saitisfaction of checking something else off?

Caroline Bender said...

Outlook is the Boss of Me.

Charlene said...

Bernice - I totally do that too!!

HeartBabyHome said...

I have a 'To Do List' widget on my browser's homepage. When I'm stressed, it's the only way to get things done!
Aside from the SOS, I think guys feel the need to make lists more complicated than they need to be. ...anyone else notice this?

Moondancer said...

I like to do lists, mine are usually on the computer or in my head.

What's on my list today? I'll be moving my daughter’s bed to another side of the room. I'll be purchasing wicker baskets for some of her toys too. Gardening has to be completed, and we'll be swimming in a few hours.

Acting Balanced Mom said...

I'm not a paper list person anymore... I use two calendars - google for blogging/work related and yahoo for personal... and have email reminders and to do lists sent to me as reminders as needed...
thanks for stopping by acting balance - following you now too

Charlene said...

Oohh HeartBaby - I will totally be looking for that widget now. Thanks for the tip!!

Moondancer - sounds like a great list!

ABM - see, you really ARE balanced... not just ACTING that way. :-)


Jules said...

You sucked me in! I'm a new follower! My To Do list is revamped once a week and hangs on the fridge taunting me on the days in between. Today I checked one thing off and I feel like a million bucks. In your face To Do list!
~Jules @

Charlene said...

Aw gee shucks - thanks Jules! Will be sure to check your blog out as well! :-)

Di said...

I'm a total fan of the to do list. Though, I've moved to an electronic version now that I have an iPhone. Love the SmartTime app.

Che said...

haha! i LOVE to do lists! I'm a huge fan of writing things down to keep my mind free from random swirling stuffs! also i have Shiny Object Syndrome... hahaha great post!

Connie10 said...

Charlene, You have a Great Attitude! As I'm just starting out to Blog on the Blogger, my only blog so far is on organizing, check it out if you have time!

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