We all know that finding time to complete the items on your to-do list is an ongoing challenge. I’d like to take a step back and look at a slightly different challenge: Finding time to de-clutter and organize your to-do list.
There’s no denying the fact that large lists of items clamoring for attention can quickly become very discouraging. I have a friend who jots notes to herself on scraps of paper and sticky pads, putting them into her date book as the day goes on. Eventually, that date book looks like it’s filled with confetti! Sometimes the notes fall out, or get covered by other notes. She manages, but it’s a challenge to keep up with it all, and sometimes things do get lost in the shuffle!
That’s why I encourage my clients to take time — even just five minutes — at the beginning and end of the day, to plan, prioritize, consolidate/de-clutter, and review.
Each piece of this process is important, so I would like to focus on each separately — beginning with planning.
Finding time to plan is like scanning the landscape from up in the air. You can choose the altitude that you want for your vantage point. That will determine the level of detail that you get into, as you plan. Planning from 35,000 feet will give you a very wide view, while looking at your day from 500 feet may afford more detail than you need. You’ll find your optimal vantage point as you practice.
Basically, as you scan the vista, you need to get the lay of the land, note any barriers, and decide on a route. What you’re determining is how you’re going to travel through your day. It’s important to know where you’re starting, where you want to end up, the major intersections and turning points along the way, and how much baggage you’re going to travel with! It’s also important to consider how you are feeling!
Having a plan doesn’t mean that there won’t be a need to make changes (or that luggage won’t sometimes get lost) as the day unfolds. It simply gives you a map. Ideally your map will include alternate routes for any unforeseen contingencies. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail about those routes, but having that map gives you a sense of direction AND allows you to be flexible and agile when necessary.
© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.