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May 1st: Lists & Reminders, Oh My!

Updated: May 2, 2020

Day 1: Why are lists and reminders important to organization? We all know what both are but do we really use them effectively? Let's find out.

My father taught us to write lists so that a.) we don't forget anything, and b.) we learn how to prioritize. He was a master list maker! We learned that you will rarely complete everything on your "to do" list (it seems to grow... the more you mark off as complete, the more you seem to add!) so you must learn to distinguish what's important to do first (if it's time sensitive), second, and so on, and what you can delegate to someone else. Yes - delegation is GREAT! It's an art you must learn. More on that later!

You must also determine what is the best time of day for you to accomplish each task. Something that takes a lot of thought should be done when you are freshest - you know whether you're a morning person or not! Plan to do those tasks during your peak time. For easier tasks, they can be done during a down time, like before your first cup of coffee, or as you're winding down for the day.

You also need to have two "to do" lists - yes two! One daily list, one long term list. The long term lists are usually those large projects that take a lot more work than a daily task. Each daily list should have, in addition to what you want to get done that day, some component of what's on the long term list too so that you're gradually completing those tasks a little at a time. Breaking large tasks down into smaller parts makes it less intimidating and easier to complete.

As your day comes to an end, any items not completed should be transferred to a new daily list for the next day. It's important to rewrite these tasks onto a new list because it's a way of "parking" these items - downloading from your mind everything that you have to do the next day. You get a sense of control and not feel that you've left items undone. You can then rest and mentally get ready for the next day. Don't sabotage yourself with overly extensive lists. There's only so many hours in a day. Be reasonable. Put things that you may not get to toward the bottom of your list so that you don't feel like you failed if you don't get to just transfer it to the next day.

Example of a daily list:

- make a vet appointment for fluffy

- call in my prescription

- call aunt Lula for that pie recipe

- drop my shoes off to be repaired

- update my profile pic

- start the family email list*

- make a list of what will stay in the garage*

Example of a long term list:

- start planning for the family reunion

- look up vacation spots for 2021

- create a list for my business start-up

- clean out the garage.

See how some daily tasks are a part of long term tasks:

* " start the family email list" is a part of "start planning for the family reunion"

* "make a list of what will stay in the garage" is a part of "clean out the garage"

If you haven't started using reminders yet, start now! A reminder is a task off of some list - whether it's a written list or a list that's only in your mind. I use reminders to make calls, join in webinars, change batteries in equipment on a regular basis, clean rarely cleaned items, etc. Reminders can be general or can be attached to a day, time or location. Marvelous! Reminders also go hand in hand with your calendar. I use my calendar for everything and use alerts like a reminder. The ability to add people to a calendar event makes it even more efficient.

One last thing about lists and reminders: where do you keep them? Some people like using their mobile devices, while others like good old-fashioned paper and pen. Some use black boards or cork boards so that they can see everything at once. I use all three. I make lots of lists on my phone under notes while I'm waiting at the doctor's office, sitting on my porch, etc. These are more long term lists that I come back to again and again to edit. For my daily lists I like using paper and pen - it sits on my desk and I see it all day, nudging me along to complete. Marking off an item on a list somehow gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment! Black board items are those ongoing "when I have time" projects that are not time sensitive but that I want to see regularly to remind me that I need to keep moving toward completion. You decide what works best for you and use it!

My father taught me this: Hang up a list (like your new year's resolutions) in a place where you will see it everyday. Even when you're not consciously thinking about them, your subconscious is still working toward those goals. I consistently do this and it works for me!

May you become the master of your lists and reminders in no time!

Take Away: Decide where you will keep your lists and how you will use your reminders and calendars to get organized! READ ALL 31 DAYS!

About the Author:

L. Sidney Irving is the owner of Sidco Properties, a real estate company dedicated to educating and assisting those that want to buy or sell a home, Sidney loves to organize herself and those around her because she believes that an organized space brings peace and fosters creativity. May the power of organization be with you!

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