Although I am an obsessive list maker, I wouldn't consider myself one of the lucky few that can call themselves totally organized. I found that my list taking was actually becoming a huge stresser in my life. Lists everywhere: online, in notebooks, calendars, planners and everywhere in between. This left me with a lot of to-dos that never got done. I have been trying very hard to find an organization system that works for me. I have seriously contemplated one of those snazzy life planners, and I still kind of am. They are just so...glorious. But I digress. I think I have finally found a system that works for me and it is basically just a simple to-do list and it certainly doesn't cost anywhere near $50. In a perfect world, it would be totally paperless, but alas, I haven't been able to totally ditch the paper. Even though I am a self proclaimed techie, I LOVE a good old fashioned list. Nothing is more satisfying to me than physically checking off, crossing off or ripping off (we'll get to this later) a task. I do still use a digital app (Evernote) for my blog editorial calendar as well as a printable checklist for my daily blogging rituals. These 3 methods along with my iPhone calendar, have become the quadfecta (I don't think that's a word) of ultimate organization for me.
1. Start small. This is a big one. Lists are kind of addictive when you stick to them. The more you check, cross, or rip off, the more you want to add to the list) Start with 3-5 simple tasks that you have to and will accomplish. Buy milk, make dentist appointment etc. Complete each one and bask in the accomplished feeling of seeing everything DONE. Slowly add more and more to your list.
2. Try different methods. I have used digital to-do lists, but nothing feels the same as paper for me. You may be the opposite and prefer to do everything digitally, everyone has to find their own groove. I found some success in just keeping plain notebook where I crossed off each task. Out of all of the things I have tried, nothing has worked like the method I have been using for the last couple of months, it has really kept me accountable. I use a regular spiral notebook and muli-colored sticky notes. You can even color code the sticky notes based on type of task or it's priority. For me, I just use different colors for aesthetic purposes. I have a page labeled Yesterday (this means these things should have been done like, yesterday), ASAP and At Some Point. Again, you can label your pages however you'd like, by date, priority, type of task etc. I write a task on a sticky note and stick it to one of these pages. If I missed a task on the ASAP page, I can easily move it to the Yesterday page. The sticky notes also allow me to add notes and other reminders to each task. As each task is completed, it is ripped off of the page and put in a bin. I don't feel like I'm using TOO much more paper, as I am reusing my 3 category pages over and over and I am also collecting all of the used sticky notes, hoping to find another environmentally friendly use for them somewhere. Ripping those suckers off the page makes me feel totally motivated and a box full of completed tasks makes me feel like an organization goddess. I think my OCD is hanging out a little. Sorry about that.
3. Keep on adding to your list. I keep a digital and a paper calendar, but that doesn't stop my from adding important events to my notebook. I keep my notebook opened on my desk and add to it throughout the day. I think the brightly colored sticky notes subconsciously draw me to work on my list at times when I normally wouldn't.
4. Don't be afraid to break up the bigger tasks. For instance, if you're working on a project, split it up in to less overwhelming sections. When I moved my blog from Blogger to Wordpress, rather than just having one sticky that said "Move Blog", I had one for each step of the process. Sticking with an organization method is a lot easier when you aren't setting unrealistic goals or deadlines.
5. Don't freak out or feel like a failure when things don't get accomplished. This is a sure fire way to end up giving up. I am an imperfect perfectionist, so when in my eyes I mess something up and it's not done perfectly it is very easy to give up. Just move on to the next task. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Trust me.
Bonus: If you decide to go the paper route, get yourself a nice pen. And by nice, I do not mean expensive. I mean something that you actually enjoy writing with. Everyone that likes to or has to write, knows the importance of a pen, it's like your weapon. You wouldn't show up to a sword fight with a dull butter knife would you? I am normally a die hard blue ink kind of girl, but I acquired (by acquired I mean it was free!) a black ink pen at the hotel we stayed at in Disney last year and it is THE pen, missing cap and all. When you have a pen that sucks, you just don't want to write. There is something about a lovely pen and blank paper that just makes me want to be a better person. OK, that sounded weird. But seriously, it makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. Or at least the weekend.