The Art of the Master To Do List

There once was a Mama Bear who felt like she was part “day planner.”  Every day she would go through the calendar and the to do list. She would gently remind the little bears what activities they had or what they needed to “get done” and also prompt the papa bear of what he needed to remember too. Often the Mama Bear would mention a task or problem that needed fixing, and unless it was urgent, or papa bear had free time at that moment….it often went undone. This continued for years until the Mama Bear realized she was doing all the remembering and everyone was depending on her to think for them and still things were not getting done.

So, Mama Bear, being the “organized” one decided to teach the big bear and the little bears how to keep track of things with a master to do list. Here’s what I learned from her:

  • Create a list of all the tasks you want to remember. Often our brain will wake us up in the middle of the night because it does not want us to forget something. This is commonly called a “brain dump.” Don’t let your to do’s keep you up.
  • Put everything on it, even that project you “hope” to get to someday but make sure that it is in the form of the smallest action you can take. Redo the dining room is too big of a project, so you should write down the steps that are involved. (Helpful apps: color note, Evernote, Hiveminder, etc.)
  • Write down any deadlines or due dates and be sure to highlight those things that need to be done in the current month.
  • Don’t get alarmed! All this stuff was floating around in your head anyway and probably draining your energy. You should feel relieved that nothing has “fallen through the cracks.”
  • Decide what needs to be done and/or what you would like to get done this week or this month.
  • Estimate how long those things will take – be realistic.
  • Pick the three top things you want or must do (given the amount of time you have in your day)
  • Now either add them into specific dates on your calendar or set aside a “block” of time (preferably each week) that you will tackle tasks on this list.
  • Each week as you are planning pick the tasks off of the master list to add to your week or your time slot. Don’t cross them off your master to do list unless you ACTUALLY complete them.
  • Celebrate your successes. Remember you will always have a list – just make sure it has what is important to you. Life will get in the way….so start each day fresh and don’t carry things over from the previous day unless you really want to.

Papa Bear now has his own master list, and he and Mama Bear discuss the upcoming week (and the to dos) each Sunday over breakfast. And that makes Mama Bear happy!

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