Have you ever had this experience? You’re lying in bed, just about to go to sleep, drifting off even, until it hits you. That thing that you meant to do today? You forgot. Suddenly, your brain is on full alert, and you’re promising yourself that you’ll remember to do it tomorrow. Just like you promised last night. You lock the task in your memory and then lie there, unable to relax, just hoping that you don’t forget it again tomorrow.
We all face challenges, and managing time and tasks is probably one of the most universal. When you’re juggling work to be completed for clients, business development activities, administrative work, professional development and training, plus personal tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you don’t keep a running, written “to do” list.
Chances are, you’re a bright person with a good memory. You may even rely on your memory more than you really should. If you’re keeping a running list of things you need to accomplish in your head, not on paper, you’re committing a foundational mistake that will cost you peace of mind — and it may even cost you clients.
The solution? An easy 3-step process:
- Keep a running list of all tasks, both business and personal. (You’ll need to accomplish all these tasks, so why separate those lists?) Whenever you think of something you need to do, it goes on the list. Every. Single. Time.
- Create a list of weekly “to do” items from your master list.
- At the end of each day, draw up a daily “to do” list from your weekly list, supplemented with whatever additions are necessary.
By writing down every task as it arises, you free yourself from the mental “to do” list that will float around the back of your mind, distracting you from what you’re actually doing or, perhaps, chiming in too late to get the task done. You must train yourself to write everything down.
Create a system for capturing your task list that matches your life. If you do most of your work in a single location, you might create a word processing document or spreadsheet that lists the project (by client name or number, for example), the specific task, the category (client work, administrative, vacation planning, etc.), and the due date. Be sure you can sort based on each of these so you can know at a glance, for instance, what’s due when or how much work you have to do for each client.
If you frequently travel, you’ll want to look for a more robust solution that will sync with your computer and wireless devices. A few that I’ve used or that clients have recommended:
Finally, since looking for a new “to do” list organizer likely wasn’t on your task list for today, try this handy gadget for marking those web pages for later comparison: http://getpocket.com/.