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To Do or Not To Do.... Lists!

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 20, 2017




Whenever I see an article about organizing your workday, I read it.  I am always looking for new and better ways to remind myself, organize myself, clean up myself and am still looking for the perfect solution.

One of the topics always covered in these articles is the TO DO list.  I love To Do Lists, and have tried many times to organize myself with them.  Daily distractions are the bane of organization, and To Do Lists are the key to overcome this.  I asked people in varying positions in my office and found that everyone in fact uses To Do Lists, but in different ways:

Typed To Do Lists  
I have a Word version set up as a table with a column to check off when an item is done.  The advantage to this (or similar in Excel) is that you can sort and resort depending on your changing priorities.  Sometimes I print these out in different colored paper to catch my eye or to make a priority list for a specific topic or project; or on card stock vs. paper.  I have also color-coded items to set priorities.

I’ve used special notebooks to keep my To Do list so that I can always grab it when I need it.

The iPhone has built in apps for “Notes” and “Reminders”.  Since we always have our phones, we can access our To Do lists easily from anywhere.

I’ve used Outlook Tasks; and I have also put “to do” items on my calendar so they pop up as a reminder.  If you share your calendar with others, the key here is to mark the calendar time to show the listed task time as “free” not “busy”.

Post Its

One of my principals uses a To Do list but uses Post-its as a triage tool, so that those specific individual items get done the same day and he can throw away the Post-it.

Index Cards
We have card stock cut into index-card size, with our logo and a grid on it.  Another of my principals uses these so he can carry it in his jacket pocket when he goes out of the office or works from home.  This same principal tells me he sometimes adds a completed task onto his list just to get the psychic boost of then crossing it right off!

One More – A Great Idea

I recently read an article that made a lot of sense to me.  Most of the articles on To Do lists talk about having a list and giving the items rankings so they are prioritized.  I often think EVERYTHING on my To Do List is a priority, so that doesn’t work so well for me.  However, this article made the case for a To Do List each day with only TWO items on it.  The items should be chosen because (1) they have been put off and are now weighing on you, or (2) accomplishing it will create a sense of happiness in achieving a goal.  I agree with the first reason, since I am a great believer in guilt as a motivator.  I would be concerned about the second reason, since many unimportant things can create happiness but not accomplish things that really need to be done.   I have taken this advice, however, and each day I put a short list on a Post-it of 3 to 5 items , depending on how big the tasks are.  I hang the Post-it at the bottom of my monitor so it is always visible throughout the day.  This doesn’t eliminate my overall very large To Do list, since you can go to that if you complete your top 3.  BUT, you need to put a laser focus on those 3 to 5 items.  We all wear many hats, and it’s too easy to be diverted by someone showing up at your desk or choosing a quick little set of tasks to feel something has been completed, but effectively taking time away from the big ones.

Stephanie Kirschner, our Executive Director, presented a webinar very recently that touched on some of the above, but also include valuable tips on determining your productive time of day, productivity software, and maintaining perspective.  You can access the recorded program here.

What do you do to keep yourself organized and performing?   Share them in the comment box below. I’m always happy to get more ideas.



Pat Leyden, CDFA is the Vice President, Facility Security Officer for WSP in New York.

 She serves as the 2017-2018 SDA National Treasurer 

Tags:  Organized  SDA  Society for Design Administration  To Do List 

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Permalink | Comments (3)

Comments on this post...

Sarah Wallace, FSDA, LEED Green Associate says...
Posted Monday, July 24, 2017
I tend to use a mix of Outlook Tasks and Post-it Notes. Outlook tasks are especially handy for those items that happen infrequently - for example - i have a task in my Outlook for some End of Year procedures required in Vision, or quarterly reminders about updating the Archive Project Lists, etc. And of course I have those weekly and daily reminders that just make sure i don't accidentally forget to submit a meter reading, or clear out the main info mailbox, etc. I tend to put my priority tasks on a Post-it note that gets put in my purse at the end of the night - usually these include volunteer items that aren't limited to a typical office hour schedule. Then i am reminded when i get home to knock out what i can before or after dinner or over the weekend, which helps me start the next day ahead of the game!
Permalink to this Comment }

Sabrina Heard, FSDA says...
Posted Monday, July 31, 2017
Pat - great blog article. Any suggestions on items that just keep getting put off because they don't have deadlines? We are in a deadline driven industry and I have even tried false deadlines. The problem with that is that I know they are false deadlines.
Permalink to this Comment }

Brooke Simcik, CDFA says...
Posted Monday, August 14, 2017
Thank you for sharing Pat, great information.
Permalink to this Comment }

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