I’m not exactly sure when this habit started, but I know that it was initially tied to my corporate career. In order to keep what needed to get done organized, I created a very, very simple system that has worked for years.
With chronic illness, sometimes thinking, memory and focus can get fuzzy. Recently, I have found my organizational system to be a vital part of remaining productive. It not only combines keeping what needs to get done afloat, but it also helps with prioritization, feeling accomplished and increased mental clarity.
Here’s my process:
- I always have a lined notebook. Typically something small and usually spiral bound, although mine has regular binding right now.
- I write the date at the top of the page and list everything that I know needs to get done. If something has a deadline, I’ll write the date it’s due next to the item and out it in my outlook calendar as an extra reminder.
- I add to this list as new things come up.
- When something gets accomplished I cross it out.
- Each evening before I’m done working, I put a star next to the 5 (+ or -) most important things to do the next day.
- When I arrive at my desk the next morning I have a clear outline of what has been prioritized for that day.
- Every week, or so, I re-write the list. Exclude what’s completed and reassess what needs to be included. I have found that occasionally something I thought needed to get done really doesn’t and can be excluded from the re-written list.
- Throughout the day, I’m know to write all over the notebook with ideas, phone numbers, things to do around the house, etc… Re-writing the list helps me assimilate those ideas into the new list, add new contacts into Outlook, and remember that I need to e-mail my doctor.
With my system, it is rare that something slips past me. Also, since I always know what needs to be accomplished I can easily assess how to structure my day.
One of the most stressful feelings is the sense that you’re never done. There is always something to do. Even thought my list is never empty, I have avoided this type of stress because crossing things off the list each day creates a feeling of forward momentum instead of overwhelm.
I know that there are more complex systems out there including phone reminders, Outlook tasks and other online systems, but the old fashioned pen and paper has been the easiest. Or maybe it’s just a small personal rebellion against technology.
It does keep everything just to my left throughout the day, and the act of writing and re-writing reinforces focus that can be easy to lose when Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of distractions are available with the click of a mouse.
And now, I’ve crossed out this blog post!
How do you keep organized?