Many of us are in multiple roles in our lives – mother/father, daughter/son, employee, director …as well as functioning as our own “life manager”. Each role requires distinct tasks and actions on our part and pretty soon, many of us feel overwhelmed. As simple as it may sound, making a list can help to keep us organized and ease the stress.
Lists can help us stay organized, focused, and increase our productivity. Seeing each item in the larger context is very helpful in planning where and how we dedicate our time. There are many ways to create and use lists; experiment with what works best for you. It may be handwritten, created on a task app on a computer or smart phone, or more sophisticated spreadsheet.
Having a “go to” list frees energy otherwise used to keep track of all the bits and pieces on our mind. Ideally, the list system you create is in one place – multiple pieces of paper in several locations will only create more chaos. Have a system for making your lists, the when and the where. Some people make lists every evening for the next day, others create a master list once a week. Keep the list where you can readily access and find it.
Prioritizing items in terms of urgent and important will help you make decisions about how and where to spend your time. (Covey’s First Things First is a good reference for understanding the differences between these and how they intersect.) Stressing about unimportant items can be reduced by seeing your items in the larger context. If you don’t complete an item time and time again, you might consider moving it up on your list, delegating it or dropping it.
Tasks that have multiple steps are best “chunked” down into the smaller parts. Sometimes seeing a huge item can be overwhelming and get in our way of beginning the task. If something is urgent (coming up on a deadline) but less important to you, you can identify this through list-making. Rather than stressing, you are better able to decide what to do about an unfinished task.
Lists can be used for a variety of purposes, not just to be efficient and organized. Think “Bucket list”. Lists of dreams, goals, movies to see, books to read….Watching our lists evolve over time can also serve to reflect how we’ve changed and grown. Reviewing our lists can help us see how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished.
How will you put these ideas to work for you?