Organization: Keeping a To Do List

I often have people asking me how I “balance” everything in my life. I work full time, do city volunteer work, write, am involved in activism, spend more time than most with my kids, cook most days at home, I’m currently 34 weeks pregnant, etc. The answer is that it doesn’t happen magically. I don’t possess supernatural skills to juggle with more balls than the average person could handle. I have two arms and two hands just like most of you do.

What a do have, which is completely learn-able, is the skill of organizing and scheduling my time. I make time to schedule my time. At first I spent at least an hour every week plotting how I’d use my time. After a while I came up with templates to use which made the chore of scheduling much easier.

I use to-do lists.

I’m going to share with you the version of to-do list I currently: Teresa’s 2015 weekly schedule.

I tweak my lists/schedules all the time because I find my life is constantly evolving. Certain areas wane, others become busier and more complex. Revising is a good thing. It keeps things fresh and interesting. Sometimes I add inspirational quotes, or a picture of my kids.

I also really enjoy the process of planning my time. It’s like getting a wad of cash every week and figuring out how you want to spend it. For anyone wanting to get more organized, I highly recommend carving out a little bit of time to relax with you pen and paper (or computer) and enjoy the act of planning your time. Like goals, your time should be specified and there should be something attainable you’re aiming for in terms of spending time.

Here’s my ritual:

By Thursday/Friday: start planning the next week. I have a 5-week food schedule (complete with ingredients necessary to make grocery shopping easier) saved on my Google Drive. This makes meal planning simple and quick. I use my Google Calendar to fill in the “to do” section on my weekly schedule with appointments and other engagements that I must attend, or tasks I must complete. These are priorities, which is why I have them listed first. I also have them in my Google Calendar with at least two reminders so I don’t forget anything in my crazy, fast-paced life.

By Sunday: new weekly schedule is printed and placed in whatever spot I look at daily. Mine goes in the small journal I carry around, where I divide a page into four quadrants: A, B, C, and D. I plot out what I need to get done in that day in order of priority. A= must get done. D= dream list. I actually do this every night in anticipation for the next day. Most people don’t want to do this, but I find it helpful to take a few minutes before I go to bed to set some productivity goals for the next day.

Monday: I make it a weekly goal to review my life goals. It never hurts to review your goals regularly. It’s amazing what you can forget or lose sight of in the course of a busy life. It takes less than a minute to read the list.

Make the system your own. Revise the schedule to fit your needs. Most important, use it. You won’t help but improve organizing your time.

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