My Marvellous List System

January 22, 2011 at 9:16 PM 2 comments

And so disorganisation Saturday come round again. Today I thought I would blog in more detail about the list system I described briefly in my second post.

It is adapted from a system described in the excellent ezine by the Snowflake Guy, which is about writing, including the organisational and marketing aspects.

My version uses a word processor file, rather than sheets of actual paper, because I prefer that, not only is it less paper waste, but I find it easier to type.

The main thing about this system is that it is designed to incorporate those big tasks that can get lost in the minutiae of little things that clutter up your average daily to do list.

I found just over a year ago and have actually managed to keep it up for a whole year!

That is quite an achievement, not just for me having stuck to something admin related, but to the system for being so simple and effective.

This is a good time of year to begin, as it is a time that we tend to be thinking about goals and improving ourselves.

The first step is to consider what big goals you want to achieve this year. They can be concrete things, like writing a novel, or I find a list of areas to focus on is just as useful. No more than ten things on that list.

Then you consider what you need to have achieved this quarter towards those goals.

For example, my year list has an entry for the thesis (it is just listed as work on it, although I probably ought to specify that I want to have 50k at least first draft, 20k of which should be second draft, or similar).

The quarter goal is to finish writing my upgrade, which is 12k (words, in case you were puzzled!) so that goes on that list, which is a small list because that is such a major task that I daren’t try to do much else until it’s done! The next quarter list will be more varied, I hope.

This year I have added another list to the top of the file, called regular tasks, on which I list things like blogging and exercise, and how often I need to do them, every day, three times a week, whatever.

Then I make a month list. First I have to consider where I need to be on my quarter goal; I need to reach either 8k to second draft standard, or more of first draft, at least 10k. (eek! I’m in trouble…)

Also on the month list go any tasks that have to be done this month.

Unsurprisingly, next I do the week list. First up is the breakdown of the month goal. I might try to be specific, such as working on the portals section, or I might leave it vague and say I want to write 2k first draft, or redraft.

Then any tasks that have to be done that week, like go to the library or the doctor. I sometimes add in regular tasks here, but not always.

Finally the daily list. Here I list every single task for that day (well, not things like clean teeth, eat food, obviously, although on an underachieving day it is tempting…) including the regular ones like blog.

Some days I just put ‘work on upgrade’ others I am more specific and add tasks like ‘read chapter 3 in Scandinavian Literacy book’, ‘write paragraph on plank edges’ etc. It depends on my mood and the nature of my work that day.

Every so often I go and cross off things I have done, which is very satisfying. At the end of the day I review the list and try to make the one for the next day.

I make sure everything is crossed off that I have done. If I have not done any tasks, I might move them to tomorrow, or I might leave them there as a record of my failure. If I made a conscious decision to not do them, I italicise.

Then I grey out the defunct list, so it is easier to find the valid ones, the week list can get a bit lost by the end of the week, and the month even more so. At the end of each week I review the week and see which tasks I did and which I failed to do. I make the new week list, including any tasks still valid that I missed.

End of each month ditto. And grey out the defunct week or month. By the end of the quarter, the file is getting long, so when I review the quarter I make a new file and move the old one to archive.

I also write notes between the lists sometimes, or thoughts about how I’m doing.

This post is getting long! But I’m almost done. The bit I have been forgetting recently is the starred task, which is that the most important task on each list gets a star * and has priority so if you do nothing else, you have to do that task.

At the moment I have let that slip a bit. At least, the upgrade is functioning as the starred task, which means I have let a few other things slip, and I really can’t afford to, so I think I need to allow more than one starred task sometimes.

So that’s my list system in detail. I hope it helps, feel free to adapt to your needs – I did!

Apologies if that was not an improvement on my post from Day Two 😦

Do you love lists or loathe them? Any thoughts or tips?


Entry filed under: disorganisation. Tags: , , , .

Blah Virus Still blah

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. corisel  |  January 23, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    I love this system! Thanks for explaining it – I’m going to try it out this year.

  • 2. Caroline  |  January 23, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    LOVE lists as you may well now. But this list system looks interesting, i may well give it a go! x


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