My life is currently run by my to do list. I’ve always liked a good list, but the craziness of having a baby really drove me to extremes. I needed to develop a completely new daily routine, and I floundered for a while. Once I stumbled into FlyLady, I started making a real plan. FlyLady advocates a written control journal, or a Cozi calendar, but those tools don’t fit me very well. I tried several to do lists and have been using remember the milk for a couple of months. Using a to do list to develop a daily routine required me to balance two pieces–a format that works for me, and a level of detail that works for me. Since I started seriously working on this in December, I can finally do most of my morning routine without checking my list, and I’m still tweaking the routine sometimes.
Here are some tips I found really useful to developing a routine and list. I recognize that not everyone loves checking things off a list quite like I do, so take what works for your brain and life.
- Include a few easy but important things, such as getting dressed. I’m encouraged to do those things early in the day, and I can usually check off several items the first time I look at the list.
- FInd a way to make a reusable list. I have many items set to repeat every day, which is why I use remember the milk. Many electronic lists don’t have that capability. If you use paper lists, FlyLady recommends writing the list on a paper, putting it in a plastic sheet protector, and using a dry-erase marker to cross items off every day. I struggled keeping my list on my computer, since every time I stopped to look at my list, I ended up reading emails and wasting time. Eventually, I moved my list to my smart
phone, which is handy for me.
- Be realistic. A to do list full of items you don’t actually plan on doing won’t motivate you to do those things, it will just become an irrelevant list. The list will remind you to do things, not make you do them. Before writing an item on the list, think through reasonable expectations of what you will do. Break big jobs into smaller tasks. Right now I’m trying to organize and empty a pile of boxes in my basement. Every Thursday, my list tells me to empty one box into wherever the items really belong. Some weeks I’ve done just one box, some weeks I’ve spent longer getting more done. If my list said, “Put everything away from the boxes in the basement,” I’d just be feeling guilty for not doing anything. Also, I recognize that I’m really not going to wash my windows anytime soon, so I just took that off my list.
- Make it fun. It’s important to do things you enjoy regularly, put those on the list. My list tells me to read for 15 minutes every day. Once I’ve made a commitment to reading, I can really stop and enjoy it. If I waited until I got my whole list completed every day, I’d get frazzled from working without a break. I do have some rewards for myself when I finish my list, too.
- Make it a work in progress. Your list doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be helpful. Life changes, so should your list.
Now that my list is mostly under control and helpful, I’ve been experimenting with putting non-habitual cleaning items on my list. The other day I went through my kitchen drawers and thinned out my utensils and taco sauce packets. Instead of just marking off that task, I set it to repeat in six months. Some day in October the same thing will pop up. Hopefully, I’ll still be using the list regularly enough to quickly go through the drawers that day.
How do you keep track of your daily routines? What tools help you keep a list?
This post is linked at Works-for-Me Wednesday.