For some reason, maybe because I have ADD and still get stuff done, people often ask me how I keep track of my goals and make sure the things I need to get done, well, get done. I’ve tried a lot of different systems, and in this post, I’m going to share my best practices.
The To Do List
Pictured here on the side is how I now structure my to do list. I break it up into three sections: Daily tasks, appointments, and projects.
Daily tasks: These are things I do every single day. For example, my current daily task list includes gratitude work, exercise, and education. I do my best to touch on these things every day. In fact, I start my day with gratitude work, getting that task done before I take a shower or eat breakfast!
Appointments: These are things that are scheduled for a specific time, such as a meeting or telephone call.
Projects: This is everything else I want to touch on or get done that day. It includes client work, marketing projects, product development, and even mundane things like going to the bank, doing the laundry, and going grocery shopping.
Marking things off your list
Something I learned more than a decade ago and have been happily implementing every since is highlighting the things I’ve done, rather than crossing them off. Crossing something off my list is a negating act and can make your to-do list feel heavy.
Highlighting things that get done is a positive, affirming act and makes the to-do list look much lighter and happier. There is scientific evidence to prove this, which I can’t seem to find right now. But I know since I switched to highlighting, I get more done.
Digitize your to do list
I keep my to-do list in an MS Word file on my computer. That way, things that need to continue on to the next day are already there and I don’t need to re-write or re-type them.
Also, on a second page of that document that I don’t print daily is what I call a “dream catcher” list. These are tasks I want to get done but know I can’t fit in today. When I update the to-do list, I look through that dream catcher list and see if there is anything I can bring forward.
The Big Idea journal
I keep a journal where I document all my big ideas and what I want to do with them. That way I don’t lose any of my random brainstorms. But the ideas don’t interrupt what I’m working on right now. I’ve done this process a number of ways:
- An actual journal where I write my ideas out.
- A folder where I keep all my random notes.
- A vision-board-in-a-binder … where I keep imagery of what I want in a handy, portable binder.
The white board goal keeper
For big, long-term projects, I use a whiteboard or poster board to keep track. For example, I’m currently working toward my Distinguished Toastmaster Award in Toastmasters. I have a whiteboard where I’ve written all the different projects I need to complete to reach that big goal. I write down estimated dates of completion in green. When something is completed, I write that date in red. Now I have a visual measurement of where I am and how much further I need to go.