I’m all about lists. And productivity. And finding practical systems that work well for me. I’m also all about finding that perfect pair of great fitting jeans.
But that’s a post for another day. :)
In my last post I shared our current summer to-do list. My kids dictate this beloved list every summer and we all love it. It’s a reminder of the fun things we want to do and enjoy during our time together. But in-between all of that play, some work needs to happen too. I knew that if I wanted to get anything accomplished while my kids were out of school I would need some help. I always have so many things swirling around in my head that I want to remember and get done that I feel like a scattered mess! Having the kids home all day running circles around me doesn’t help. :)
I’ve tried many different things over the years to help me organize my thoughts, manage my time and be more productive. For years my Time Management Binder served me well. I divided my binder into the things I was always working on and loved having everything in one place.
I also continued using sticky notes (HUGE fan of sticky notes) for my shopping lists. Easy to grab and go when I was heading to a certain store!
The only problem with my Time Management binder was that I would write down lists (projects I was working on, things I wanted to organize, etc.), put the list in my binder in its happy little labeled section, and then forget about it. Yup. It was a very organized “out of sight out of mind” to-do list.
Not necessarily a bad plan… unless your goal is to actually get the things on your list done. :)
Once I realized my binder was a great system for holding lists and papers, but not really great for helping me to be productive and accomplish my to-do’s, I stopped using it.
Lately I’ve been writing my lists in a simple notebook and following the system I shared in this post which has been working great. The only problem is that my lists were becoming too long. Sometimes an evening “brain dump” would fill up 3-4 pages of things I wanted to get done. My never ending project list felt overwhelming and unorganized. Even by highlighting my three most important items to get done in a day, I still felt a bit scattered when I had a minute to work on something.
I’ve always been a lover of sticky notes and usually have them all over my house with little reminders. In my office, on my nightstand, hanging on my bathroom mirror. :) I was laying in bed one night and an idea popped into my head. It was time to consolidate all of my sticky notes!
The next day I grabbed a piece of poster board (the kind that has a grid on it is my favorite), six different colors of post it notes, a sharpie marker and a thin black pen.
Side-note: Why is it that this picture seriously makes me giddy!? Something about sticky notes and pens! I can’t help it. I think it’s time for a stroll through Staples. :)
This is what I came up with. It’s my new Visual To-Do List. And I’m in love! Categories are in yellow and each section is a different color. My sections are ORGANIZE, DECORATE, BLOG POSTS, PICTURES (things I need to photograph for the blog), and COMPUTER (random things I want/need to do on-line). My ORGANIZE and BLOG POST sections are the biggest so I made two rows for each of them. Sorry a few upcoming blog posts are blocked out.. top secret stuff here. ;)
I’m a very visual person so having everything I want to get done laid out in front of me like this has been AMAZING. These are NOT things that are time sensitive and have to be done immediately. These are all the projects I’m working on (a lot of them are half finished). The ideas that swirl around in my head non-stop! I can add to each row if I need to (perfectly fine with sticky notes trailing down the wall!) but my goal is to be removing sticky notes (checking things off the list) as fast as I’m adding new ones so it never gets out of control.
I hung my visual to-do list in my office to the left of our chalkboard. It’s off to the side of the room behind the door and I like it there. It’s not taking away from my office decor, but it’s visible and easy for me to check often throughout the day.
I still write my daily to-do’s (things that are time sensitive) in a list and highlight the top three things, but now my list is half of a page long! Usually random little to-do’s (phone calls to make, etc.). Then when they are done I glance at my sticky notes and decide what I’m going to work on. I LOVE having it all laid out in front of me. A visual to-do list! I don’t forget anything and it’s easy to decide what to prioritize first.
The way I set up my visual to-do list is personal to me, but I hope it gave you a few ideas about how you could also use this system. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking and fine tuning things as I learn what works and what doesn’t, but for now this visual to-do list is saving me! I’ve been so much more productive when the kids are playing and I have a few minutes to get something done.
Even better… I have a place for all of those sticky notes that isn’t on my nightstand or bathroom mirror. And my brain can rest because it’s all dumped on my office wall.
I like it there much better.