Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Task Management 101

As we get back into the fall back-to-school time and our calendars get busier, it is worth a look to review managing tasks and to-do's. If you’re the type that is great at thinking about tasks or events, but not so good at the follow-through, write things down.

When we write something down, it increases our ability to both remember it and put it "out of our head". If you ever have the same thought running over and over in your mind, and want the madness to stop, take a minute and write it down. If it is a task to do, writing it down will both ensure you do it and release your brain from worrying about remembering to do it. Try to have paper and pen readily available on all levels of your house. That way, if you think of something while getting ready in the bathroom or doing laundry, you can easily jot it down and then slip the paper into a pocket or bring it with you to a desk or calendar. Taking that extra 30 seconds is so helpful -- you do what you remembered to do. If you run out of something in the kitchen or bathroom, within a minute get to the grocery list and add it. There's no time like the present is apropos here.

Are you a list maker? Try becoming a scheduled item list maker, that is, noting when either tasks or events happen on the calendar. You can see where you’re going, what you're doing, and what "to do" item is needed to complete each day. Ultimately, scheduling time this way means you just have to focus on that day. It prevents feeling overwhelmed. If you like the satisfaction of writing a list and crossing off items, do so but be sure to tag each action item with a date it will be done. Have something you need to do in the future but without a date? Pick a day on the calendar and write it in. Choose reasonable time frames or pick days when you know you’ll have sufficient time. Use the calendar as a way to remind you of things -- actionable tasks -- and not just holidays, events and happenings.

Tip: don't put big things on a list -- break it into tasks. For ex., write "purchase party supplies" and "call caterer" on your calendar or To Do list instead of "organize party". Then, you'd write the date of the party on the calendar, and put all the specific things you need to do for the party either on a list or on days of the calendar.

Make yourself accountable in tangible ways to ensure you act upon them. Reminders, alarms, emails, lists, string on fingers -- whatever it takes. Try putting the item you want to take with you on your purse or keys (with something you have to take to drive away). Or try one of the new reminder products that hang on the doorknob and hold items or have note paper.