Checking Off Your Lists: A How-To Guide | Giftie Etcetera: Checking Off Your Lists: A How-To Guide

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Checking Off Your Lists: A How-To Guide

If you are a Loyal Reader, you probably like to make lists. I'm just guessing here, but fans of my blog seem like they would be list makers.

Personally, I rarely make a list that isn't meant to be completed. Sure, I have a wish list. (Truth be told, I want that one completed. Buy me presents, I say!) And I keep a running list of the CLEs (continuing education for lawyers) that I complete each year and a list of my accomplishments at jobs and such. These are all practical lists, but not really what I am talking about today.

Today, I'm focusing on the kind of list that you check off or complete.

There are some things to keep in mind to improve your lists so that you are more likely to get them done and check them off.

*Choose the subject matter of the list carefully.

Even though I use my weekly planner pages for planning most tasks, I occasionally make lists of things that need to be done together. For example, I might list errands to run on errand day or household chores that must be done before company arrives. 

Note that the subject matter of the list is discrete. A list is a tool, not a brain dump, and does not need to include every single thing that you ever want to accomplish. Instead, define parameters that make sense by having a subject matter that is logical and limited in scope and context.

*Limit the list to a reasonable length.

The length that is reasonable depends on the nature of the list, of course, but a grocery list might be a full page of items, while a task list should stay short and sweet.

I like the rule of ten. No more than ten things to do that take less than ten minutes each and no more than ten lists a month. That way, you can adjust fairly realistically. For example, say "vacuuming the floors" actually takes twenty minutes and "wrapping Christmas presents" takes thirty minutes. Fifty of your one hundred minutes (ten times ten) are gone, so limit the housekeeping list to five more ten minute or less items.

Check out my Christmas Eve delivery list. Seven people to deliver to, but a total of ten items to deliver. It is discrete and achievable.

*Select a location in your planner that works well for the list.

Some lists need to be on your weekly pages, either as a hole-punched list or a sticky hot list. Some should be in the front of your planner. I'll be making a grocery list today, so my list of meals for Christmas week needs to be readily available. Right now, it is sitting on my dashboard, waiting to be processed. Once I make the grocery list, I will move it to my weekly pages.

*Use a logical order for the list.

My grocery list is written based on the layout of the store where I shop.

My housekeeping list for this week puts processing Christmas lists to check for items not yet received first (since I might need to follow-up), followed by cleaning private areas of the house, and then cleaning public areas. The truth is that I will clean the public areas before company arrives, so getting the private areas done first is my trick for getting all of the house clean.

*Be dedicated to the list.

Frankly, if I don't want to do something, making a list is not going to change that. The list is a tool for remembering what must be done and for not having to think about what to do next. Treat it as such.

*Check off, scratch out, or highlight.

When making a list, consider skipping lines. It makes the list easier to read.

Also, be aware of your style of marking items complete, and consider whether you are doing what works best for your brain. Personally, I cross out. But a check mark or an X in a box might work better for you. Consider highlighting completed items. The incomplete items will pop out at you.

Understand, as of Monday, I am on Christmas break and not working on any lists at all until the New Year!



yezenia said...

Very good points you make. Im still working on locations of lists. And your rule of tens, I've never thought of it that way. Ill have to give it a go. Might work to keep me from overextending myself and them being disappointed that I didn't finish something on time.

Unknown said...

Franklin Covey has what is called a Progressive Task List that I have set up for each zone of my home. They also have a terrific grocery list and meal planner that I have used for years. Great info here.

RobbieKay said...

Do you use any sort of someday/maybe list to store all those things "that you ever want to accomplish" to keep them from ping-ponging around in your head?

Also, I've been meaning to ask how NaNoWriMo went for you.

Finally, what pretty new pen is that? If it's a FriXion, it's a style I haven't seen before.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I do keep a maybe/someday list, but I don't try to accomplish it.

I wrote 30,000 excellent words and just got too busy in November, but I plan to finish the novel.

The pen, if you mean the green one, is a Pentel Energel. I love them, but they don't erase, so I am using them out on my grocery lists (not in my planner).

Diana said...

Things I don't want to do but must do often get passed on day to day. I have a rule. It gets circles and a number when it's passed on. Three is the limit then it must be done.

If I don't do this it would be forgotten because there is just some things that are not my favorite to do. And I am a great procrastinator. said...

I'm a highlighter. Checking the box isn't nearly as satisfying. I don't like to cross out because I want a record of what I did.

You said: When making a list, consider skipping lines. It makes the list easier to read.

I absolutely love to do that. I can't stand not having blank space between items.

I also like the rule of 10. Since I have ADHD, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed. I frequently limit my list to 10 items. They don't necessarily take only 10 minutes like yours, but there can only be 10. If I get them all done, I can list 5 more. Not that that ever happens!

Great post.