I have been making lists all my life. I have a vivid memory of sitting at my little painted desk at the age of 5, using a ruler to carefully measure out a chart to keep track of something. Over my long history of creating lists, charts, and timetables my commitment levels have varied. I am pleased to say that I never went as far as Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf, though it may explain why that was my favourite part of the book.
Since making lists almost qualifies as a hobby for me, here are some tips for you if you need some help keeping track of your to-dos.
1. To App or Not to App
Stepping away from the basic “Note” function on your phone, there are countless apps available to keep track of things. While there is always the occasion for an old-fashioned pad of paper, using technology is more practical when you are on the go. If you like apps, go with this, but be careful. Installing and learning the latest app takes precious time. New apps and upgrades happen constantly, so this is a vicious circle. Invest a little time to select what is really important to you, and stick with it for awhile. Stay focused on using the app and check in with yourself to see if it is saving you time or stress.
2. On Phone vs Not On Phone
Many apps are also available on your phone and will synch with your desktop account. The downside of this is that it gives you one more reason to pull out your phone while waiting to get your hair cut, or while sitting in traffic. You could be better off with reading a book, or talking to someone, or…driving. The upside is that it could save you from forgetting things. For me, this cut down on emails. Gone are the days when I would send myself 8 emails in the evening with ideas or reminders or tasks, and then sift through them the next morning. Now I add it direct to my list. Less emails is always a good thing!
3. Theme vs Time
Many apps are designed to be organized by theme. Such as “Work” or “Kids” or “House” or “Personal”. This is especially popular for those who love to colour code. This doesn’t work for me, in part because my work life and personal life have been so blended for so many years, I don’t have clear categories for everything. I prefer the time method – organizing all my tasks by days. This makes my list part agenda and part to-do, but it works for me. Then I remember that on my way back from that networking meeting that I have to pick up new contact lenses for my teenager.
My favourites? Our Groceries, which your kids or partner can access from their phone. Share the responsibility of keeping track of what you need from the store! Also, Wunderlist, which I organize by time.