Are you as organized as you think?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with someone who set up a time to talk with me. She shared that she was already pretty organized and productive, and was hoping to up that game just a little bit.

She shared all the things she had going on and what she was hoping would go a bit better (and this lady has a lot of spinning plates up in the air).

I asked her how she was keeping track of everything.

Her answer was not uncommon “I make a list every night.”

I hear this a lot, and it’s a great answer. I do this and recommend others do this too.

I probed a bit deeper and learned that the list is on whatever piece of paper is close to her at the end of the day.

I hear this all the time. Todo lists written on whatever paper or scrap is close, and a day or two later, it’s lost. So, if you didn’t get to something one day, you’re just hoping you remember what it is.

I recommend people have three lists.

  1. Quarterly/Monthly list
    This holds your goals for the current quarter and month and what projects and things need to be done so you can reach your goal.
  2. Weekly list
    The list of what needs to be done this week to be on track to meet your quarterly and monthly goals.
  3. Daily todo list.
    This is the one most people have. It’s what needs to be done today so you’re on track to meet your weekly goals. 
    Sometimes it’s not as detailed as it needs to be. You might have a small (or large) project listed on your todo list as one item and get frustrated that you couldn’t get it finished. Instead, make sure you break those projects up into their individual steps.
    For example, one small project might be “writing your blog.” Instead of putting that on your todo list alone, you might write it down and then fill out the steps underneath.

Sometimes people will ask me to tell them how I keep track of everything.

I always hesitate to share because the system I use now is not exactly what I did a year ago, and my system a year ago is different than two years before that.

Two years ago, the system I use now would not have worked for me. I didn’t have the habits and processes in place that make it a success for me now.

Your systems and processes for keeping track of your business and life will change over time, just as you and your business shift and change.

The key is to notice when something isn’t working as well as it used to and tweak it.

One way I can tell if something no longer working for me is if I’ve been diligently using it and then find I’m not doing it anymore for no particular reason.

The common thread behind all the ways I’ve kept track of my intentions and goals is the three lists above.

The way those lists are formatted and arranged has changed a lot over the past few years, but those three lists have always been at the core.

Going back to the women I mentioned earlier, we decided to map out her projects for the next couple of months, so she had a really good idea of what time, if any, she had for any new things that might pop up.

As we created the lists, she got a bit overwhelmed and wondered aloud how she’d ever get everything done.

I paused and said, “you mentioned earlier that you always get everything done.”

She assured me that she had this kind of workload before, and everything always gets done by focusing on one thing at a time.

My response was, “That’s great! So, tell me, if you get everything done without it all being written down, why would having the list change anything?”

She laughed.

Having a list of what needs to be completed each week this month for each project you’re working on means you’re not caught off guard and playing catch up one week.

With the list, you know that you’re not forgetting something. And if you did forget something, you can add it to your list when you realize it.

These three lists free up your mind to not worry about the projects and tasks in your business on your off-hours.

If you’d like some help setting up your three lists and determining what format works best for you, I’d love to help you with that (seriously, it’s a lot of fun for me!) You can set that up by heading over to my contact page here and filling out the form. Just share what you want help with, and we’ll get something set up.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #129