The Complete More, Stress Less to-Do List

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The Complete More, Stress Less to-Do List

A classic standby. A timeless tool. The to-do list is still one of the most effective ways to keep moms organized and productive. But before you start jotting down camp registration dates, birthday gifts to buy, and that next dentist appointment, take note of these tips. 

David Allen, a master of productivity and creator of the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method, takes task writing to a whole new level. He preaches that your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them, and that ultimately it’s your action list—Allen’s name for the typical to-do list—that will keep you on top of the clutter and in control. Here are some tips from Allen on maximizing the power of your action list.

  1. Action lists should contain all the stuff you need to get done and should be organized by context. Try clumping your to-dos by these categories: school, home, work, shopping—or you could organize them by how/where you’ll complete the task: by phone, at computer, at store, at home. Always be sure to include any deadlines and due dates.
  2. Your calendar should highlight only day-specific tasks—appointments, play-dates, early dismissal reminders. Tasks such as pay bills, call Mom, and buy wrapping paper should be written on your action list.
  3. Collect, process, and organize your stuff immediately. Each day, go through the mail, read your e-mails, and review the papers sent home with your child. If no action is required, toss it—and if it does require some further attention, file the paper and add it to your action list. Keep in mind, if an action would take less than two minutes—such as signing a permission slip for an upcoming class trip—go ahead and complete it then.
  4. Conduct a weekly review. Take the time to review all your lists, add any new action items, and update your calendar. It makes sense to do this at the start or end of each week. Allen even suggests thinking through your long-term goals at this time.