Thursday, October 27, 2016

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys for Creating a Master List

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Last weekend, I dug into my various ways of keeping track of things I needed to do and did some streamlining. As I wrote yesterday, this not only helped me to get more organized, it also revitalized my excitement for all the projects I'd taken on. As I worked, a few key guidelines emerged.

Begin with a plan. I have a system for keeping track of my to-dos -- one that's meant to avoid little slips of paper scattered everywhere. For school, I use a steno pad with a separate column dedicated to each class. Once I knew my TED Talk addiction wasn't going away, I dedicated a two-page spread (with room to grow) in my Brainstorm Book to them, so I could keep track of the ones I "thought I might use sometime" for class. Finally, I keep track of daily, run-of-the-mill to-dos in a spiral-bound  notebook (when I'm on the go) and/or my page-a-day desk calendar (when I'm at home)...or in the classic I need to see it piles I can't seem to stop making. Admittedly, this last part needs some work.

Trust your styles. Why not just make one long list? Because it stresses me out. Partway through this process, as I closed window after window and organized my lists in a way that made sense to me, I began to feel energized. My default (all those open windows and reminder piles) had gotten out of hand, and so what I was doing was filing my to-dos in places that made sense to me and increased the likelihood that they'd get done. By filing things visibly (i.e. on lists), I could categorize things but still keep them accessible. One of the best things I came up with was the master list of all the links I wanted to get back to. Simple and functional, it let me put everything in one location that made sense.

Stay focused. While creating that wonderful a master list of links, it was tempting to just curl up and read all the good stuff I'd found, but that wasn't what I was supposed to be doing. If they'd gone unread long enough to linger, they could wait a little longer.

Finally, don't forget to finish what you started. I had a deadline, and the ticking clock added an undesirable layer of stress, making it tempting to stop before every last paper was put into its file just so I could eliminate the pressure. In retrospect, that might actually have been a good thing. Knowing that if I didn't finish before I left for my engagement I'd have to face an unfinished mess when I came back motivated me to keep going so I could come home and not only relax, but celebrate my mind-freeing organization.

And the icing on the cake? Going through this process inspired three blog posts. And this morning, I knew just where to go when I wanted to work on one of my articles.

Functional organization, built on what comes naturally. Gotta love STYLE.

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