Effective Leaders Stay Organized (part two)

Part two of two (read part one here)

My daily list fits into the narrow confines of the column on the left hand side of each day’s page in my planner.

But – sometimes life becomes so hectic, and the to-do list gets so long, that it’s time to switch methods.

If you are working on several projects at once, and there are so many specific deliverables that it’s tough to keep them written in a small area, don’t panic.

Take an entire sheet of paper, letter or even legal size, and write out your complete list, organized however you like.

Then, do that A, B, C prioritization without regard to the three A’s per day limit.

You could be looking at a really overwhelming to-do list at this point, causing panic and paralysis. No worries!

At the start of the day, or at the end of the previous day, pick the five things from that list that you will do today.

Write those five things on a medium size sticky note. Put that note in plain sight. I like it in the very middle of my desk, because that forces me to keep the desk cleaned periodically.

Most importantly, put that big list away, totally out of sight. It’s a stressor, and will interfere with your effectiveness. You are not allowed to get the big list out until you have done all five things on the post that’s out.

When the list gets pared down to a normal size, return to the previous method.

As awesome as our electronic devices are, it has always appeared to me that the most organized, least stressed people I know, are ones who use pen and paper rather than electronic organizers over the long haul.

This could be generational of course, as I am 42. But I am far from a technophobe; I am dictating this blog using Dragon Dictate for my MacBook while I’m driving. (Don’t worry mom, screen is shut so I am not tempted to push any buttons or look at any screens.)

I think in our home, one can find two iPhones, four iPods, two laptops, two desktop computers, and an iPad. (I also have a Handspring Visor Neo for sale. It’s on craigslist.)

Although I use my gizmos all the time, and I endure jabs from people when I whip out my big old Franklin Planner, pen and paper is the way to go.

If you ever feel like your to-do lists are getting away from you, try one of these two methods, at least for a week. See what you think.

4 Responses

  1. Chris Blanchard
    | Reply

    Organization is for procrastinators…

  2. Wade Presley
    | Reply

    For people like me this is very good advice. Thanks, Alan.

    • alanfeirer
      | Reply

      You are welcome, Wade. And on Chris’s thought — what if it were truly possible to clear an entire to-do list – EVER? Might be time to reach higher/further!

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