Mastering the To Do List by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


Is your To Do list cluttered or covered in dust?  Maybe your To Do list is a mess of subconscious worries prone to resurfacing at the most inconvenient times.  A To Do list is a work-at-home mom essential.  Here are a few tips to help you manage the job that never ends:


Write it down.  Give your brain a break by writing everything down.  When you are juggling a career and family your mind is bound to be distracted at various times throughout the day.  Once you have noted an action that needs your attention, your mind will be free to return to the task at hand.path1


Keep it all in one place.  Whether you prefer a notepad, daily planner, or PDA, be consistent with where you keep your To Do items.  A note in your purse, another on the back of your hand and a third hanging on the refrigerator only adds confusion to an already hectic day.


Use single action items.  Your To Do list should consist of specific action items, not projects or goals.  These are the steps you take to complete a project, or accomplish your goals.  When you finish a task, cross it off.  When you work at home your boss isn’t there to pat you on the back, so you may find it gratifying to assess what you have accomplished at the end of the day.


Be specific, the more details the better.  If you include all the information you need to complete the task at hand, you will be able to finish it with ease.  This is especially helpful when squeezing things in throughout the day.  A quick phone call while you are in the waiting room of your doctor’s office becomes simple when the phone number is at your finger tips.


Estimate the time you need.  Be realistic with yourself about how long it actually takes to get things done.  If you block off a half an hour to run 30 errands, you’re not likely to stay on schedule.  Your schedule is there to help you plan out your day.  Overextending yourself will only leave you feeling stressed out and let down.


Categorize your list.  Breaking your list into categories will help you become more efficient.  Use a page in your planner or notebook for errands, another for phone calls, and a third for emails.  If you are in the car, flip to the errand page and check off anything on the way to or from your destination.  You can save loads of time by accomplishing similar items while you have the resources readily available.


Set priorities.  Use priorities to keep from falling behind.  Make sure you accomplish the items at the top of your priority list, but don’t be afraid to group those items with less urgent tasks that can be done at the same time.  The goal here is efficiency. 


Reassess regularly.  One phone call can change your priorities in an instant.  Review your priorities and change them as necessary.  If your To Do list isn’t quite working for you, switch it up a bit.  A few minutes invested now can add up to hours of time saved in the long run.