How to Organize To Do Lists

Overwhelmed by to do lists!  You can't paper your way to get organized.  Learn how to be more productive and get more done!
In this new video series, Ask the Organizer Anything, I open myself up to answer anything – organizing related, of course!

In this episode Jeanne Petrus-Rivera of Red Lotus Foods, had a burning question for me:  How to Organize To Do Lists!  If you have questions about organizing lists, then this post is for you!

{Note: I had a little trouble getting the Google Hangout to work for me, so I opted to use a program on my Mac, but I wasn’t sure it was working, so what you see in the video is a more casual interaction between Jeanne and I – and it’s probably more fun to watch, too!  That’s why it cuts off abruptly – I’m not as big of a tech nerd and I thought since I had some issues recording our chat!  Anyway, make sure you watch until the end to see us discuss a product I’m thinking about designing.  I find our conversation amusing!}

More on Jeanne’s question about organizing lists:

As an entrepreneur, to do lists are long and pretty much never ending.  Entrepreneurs wear so many different hats that it can be a challenge to keep track of things that have to be done right away while also remember things that are longer term goals and / or to do’s.

My solution to Jeanne’s issue was simple and straightforward – pick one system – whether it be paper or digital, and stick with it.  It’s way too easy to lose track of things if you’re trying to switch between different systems.

If you’re a paper person, get yourself a small notebook.  Not a teeny tiny one, but one that is easy to carry around with you.  Use Post It Notes to create tabs and divide the notebook into at least three sections:

Now

Soon

Later

As you think of tasks that need to be done, write them in the appropriate section of the notebook.

Keep things divided and organized by keeping the sections separate.  The other key to success with this notebook system is to keep it with you and update it as you think of things and to not use more than one notebook.  Using several notebooks for this will end up driving you batty because you’ll lose track of things.

On the other hand, if you’re a digital kind of person, there’s a different way to go, but it’s much like the notebook system.  Use an app, either a program native to your phone (think Reminders for iPhones) or purchase an List app.

Tomorrow is the name of the app I couldn’t think of when I was talking with Jeanne.  I like how simple it is and they’ve added synching features with their online site.  Jeanne later shared with me a free app that she found after we spoke, Jaime’s To Do.  It is free but has ads that I find a little distracting and poorly placed.  Luckily, there are a bunch of list apps out there – you’re sure to find one that you like!

After you’ve found an app that will work for you, create different digital lists much like what I laid out for the paper lovers above:

Now

Soon

Later

To maintain this system, use this app and this app only to note any and all To Do list items.

The key to consistency and maintaining organized To Do Lists in a paper or digital form is first picking a system, then using *only* that system to keep track of your list items.

Watch the first episode:

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