We all have so many things to do. Each day is filled with tasks at work and home, and we all want to fill each day with as many accomplishments as possible.
Sometimes though, things slip through the cracks. We have so much to do that our brain can’t remember it all. Desperate, we turn to calendars and apps, but we often have so many different places where we are trying to keep track of what we need to do that we forget where we put the information.
If you are a lover of simplicity, may I share with you how I have started organizing my to-dos on just two sheets of paper? In fact, they aren’t even full sheets.
When stores had their “Back to School” sales, I bought a pack of small spiral notebooks. They were about five for a dollar, I think. I carry one with me all the time and just use the pages in there for my lists.
Page 1: Today’s To-Dos
At the top of a page, I simply write the name of the next day, and form a numbered list of the things that have to get done. The key is “have to.” Far too often, we write down a thousand things and don’t know where to start. If you had to get done only three or four things tomorrow, what would go on that list? That’s what goes on this list.
On most days, my list has about five things on it. As a preacher, there is almost always “Sermon study/prep,” but I make note of which sermon (“Sunday night”) or class I need most to focus on. Usually, there is a visit or phone call that needs to be made. If, at the end of the day, those handful of things are accomplished, I have had a good day.
As a special note, if there is something that is scheduled (in my case, a counseling session is not uncommon), I write the “to-do,” but note the time in large, red letters out beside it. I also do use my smartphone and have it send me a reminder a few minutes beforehand. So, the entry on my paper might just say, “Counseling session with [name]. 2:00PM.” That way, the time will be looking at me throughout the day, and I’ll be able to coordinate my other “to-dos” around this one that is fixed, as far as time goes.
Page 2: Future/Wish List
Throughout any day, there are other items that come up and we would like to do them, or it would be nice if they happened. However, they drain us from the most important items on our list. That’s where the second piece of paper comes in. It is, in reality, nothing more than a small “scratch pad” where I write down things that come into my mind that need to get done in the future, I would like to do if time allows today, or that I just need to be reminded of.
Examples that go on this sheet are things like gift ideas for upcoming birthdays, phone numbers of people I need to call in the coming days, lists of people to ask to be on a committee, and other similar items. All these can be organized into a “to-do” list at a later date, but as the day goes on, it is best just to write down the short notation as a way to remember them later.
At the end of the work day, I look at this page and see if there is anything that needs to go on tomorrow’s to-do list. If so, it goes on there. If not, I leave the page there, and try to come back to it (along with all the others) on Sunday, so I can use these notes to plan out my week.
As with any other system, there are always things that slip through the cracks, but I was tired of having what seemed like endless places with notes and to-do lists. So, I went old-school, and it has helped me so much. Simplicity works for me, and perhaps it will work for you, too.
How do you keep track of your to-dos? Leave a comment!