Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creating an On-Screen To-Do List

The nice thing about other people being on vacation is that I can use the time to get organized. I'm rediscovering the joy of creating to-do lists.

Normally, I write down my to-do items on a piece of note paper or in a note book and keep it by my desk.

For the last week, however, I've been keeping a running to-do list on my computer desktop in a Word file. As I accomplish items, I highlight them, select "Font" from the "Format" menu and then click the "Strikethrough" option to cross it off.

For items that require further action, I type a note in parentheses on the same line. I change the type to red (to make sure I don't ignore it) and usually note what time or date I left a message, sent an email, or what my next step is.

Being a long-time user of to-do lists, I've been surprised to discover that this new way of organizing myself has many benefits. Chief among my unexpected success with the on-screen method is how much it's helping me prioritize.

When jotting things down on paper, I tend to try to "go down the list" and get things done in the order I've written them down. For some reason, I'm unable to effectively rank things in order of importance. Instead of marking the "big deal" jobs, I feel immediate pressure and jump in wherever I am most inspired.

On the computer screen, however, I can cut-and-paste. I easily move things around in order of most important to least important and I also group related tasks together, helping me cross off several action items more efficiently.

I still type down action items as I think of them, but after brainstorming, I reorder things sequentially. That way, I make sure I approach "first things first."

The list is open and showing on my computer screen at all times ~ except when I decide I'm done working for the day. Then I close it. Being able to actually "close" the file mentally helps me leave work when I walk out of my office ~ so important since I'm working from home!

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