3. Communication. Goal: Keep track of items to discuss with someone else. I keep a communication list (or log) on each person I communicate with frequently: operations manager, sales manager, mentor, assistant, spouse, children, and mother. Each time I think of something I need to chat about, I write the item on that person’s list. I check in once a day with these individuals and cover all the items on my list, rather than interrupting them ten times through the day for one item each. Doing this helps me focus better, and they appreciate being able to work without my constantly reprioritizing their days (emergencies aside, of course).
4. Category. Goal: List items pertaining to each category.
a) Books to read
b) Groceries to buy (even though “go to grocery store” may be a task, this list contains the individual items I need to remember to buy)
c) Shopping to do (a list of things I need to remember to get when I’m running errands)
d) Honey-do’s for John
e) Gift ideas (one for each person)
f) Meagan’s friends (I can never remember their names)
g) Johnny’s friends
h) James’ friends
i) Neighbors (who lives where, kids, pets, etc.)
j) Passwords (I know I’m not supposed to do this!)
k) Combination locks (so I can take the sticker off)
l) Babysitters (so many to keep track of)
m) Phone lists (company directory, trade association staff list, etc.)
n) Girl Scouts (who’s in the troop, photocopy electronic list)
o) Soccer (who’s on the team, photocopy electronic lists)
Any list your brain can imagine, you can and should track!
Where should you keep your Category lists? If you use a paper planner, you can file them behind the A-Z tabs. A-Z tabs are normally used for addresses and phone numbers (as mine are), but they also work as a paper filing system. I use lined pages the size of my planner and write the name of the list across the top—gifts, shopping, errands, projects—and file it behind the letter of the list. For example, I keep my master task list under “M,” my question list for my mentor Dianna Booher behind “B,” and the staff phone directory of the National Speakers Association behind “N.”
If you’re an electronic person, you have several options. Some people prefer to use Outlook Tasks on their computers, using a category to sort the different lists. Others use the “Notes” feature and create a new note for each of the categories, adding items as they think of them. Some people prefer Excel spreadsheets or Word documents…it doesn’t matter, as long as you pick one method and stick with it. You will confuse your brain if you handle information unpredictably.
I still love paper and use a traditional paper planner (Franklin Covey) for my calendar and lists. I also carry a Treo SmartPhone, a multi-feature cell phone/PDA, so I can access my email and contact database. I know how to use the PDA features, but I still prefer to handwrite lists. Bottom line: There is no right/wrong to this approach as long as you pick one method and use it consistently.
Make it a productive day!™
© 2006 Laura Stack. Laura is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc. and the bestselling author of Leave the Office Earlier and Find More Time. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or www.TheProductivityPro.com.