I love lists. So much that it was starting to get out of hand. I like to make lists for every big event that’s coming, or for everyday things I need to track. I also like lists for things that need to be done far in the future. Sometimes I find myself with too many lists, and it becomes difficult to keep them all sorted. Sometimes I over-correct and put everything on one list, but that’s bad too… how do you sort through a really big list to find the things you really have to do now?
To get my organization organized, I came up with a three-list system. The lists are Now, Sooner, and Later. Here’s how they work:
|Now:||On the “Now” list, put everything you absolutely HAVE to get done right away, or at a specific time. This would include things like a dentist appointment, a trip to the bank, or a friend’s birthday. A quick glance at this list every day will help keep you from missing the things you have to do. It can be a lifesaver!|
|Sooner:||On the “Sooner” list, put everything that you need to get done soon, but it doesn’t have to be done at a specific time. For example, laundry may need to be done this week, but it may not matter exactly which day you do it. Or maybe you need to call and get an appointment for a haircut, but you’re really not in a hurry, so anytime in the next couple of weeks will do. This is the list you’ll refer to when you find yourself with free time. Just look at the list and see what needs to be done and take care of what you can.|
|Later:||On the “Later” list, put everything that you need to do eventually. These are the true “I don’t want to forget about this later” items such as cleaning the garage, touching up the paint on the shutters, or re-organizing your recipes. You don’t need to look at this list daily. You might not even look at it for a week or two. But when you find yourself with a rainy day or a rare day with absolutely nothing to do, check out this list and see what you can mark off.|
Anything you need to do can go onto one of these lists. That’s it! Just three lists! I’ve used this three-list plan for over a year, and it really helps me to keep myself organized and set priorities to my tasks.
But it just wasn’t quite enough for me. Something was still missing. See, I keep my lists on my computer, where I see them every day during the workweek. On weekends, though, I don’t sit at the computer often and therefore don’t see the lists. So I developed a another list to add, turning this into a 3+1 system. I call it the “Weekend” bonus list:
|Weekend:||Every Friday, I grab a piece of scrap paper and on it, I draw lines to create four sections, which I label with “Friday”, “Saturday”, “Sunday”, and “Sometime”. Then I go through my “Now” list and see if there’s anything I need to do this weekend. If so, I copy those items over to the appropriate section. Brunch with Jo on Sunday? Put that in the “Sunday” section. Need to go to the bank? Put that in the “Saturday” section. Then I look at the “Sooner” list and see if there are any items I might want to do this weekend. These might not have days assigned to them, so they’ll go in the “Sometime” section. Mow the lawn sometime this weekend? Got it. Stop by the library to return some books? Got it. Once I’ve got a few things copied over, I end up with a nice little sub-list that I can carry in my pocket that will get me through the weekend. Then on Monday morning, I edit my master lists and mark off anything I managed to do over the weekend.|
So that’s my 3+1 list system. If you want to try it, I recommend starting with the three basic lists, and then adding the extra one if you need it. You can keep your lists on the computer, or on paper. One benefit to a paper copy is that it’s visually appealing to see lots of items on your list crossed off, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Good luck!