When I started working I thought I could carry all my deadlines and duties around in my head, and for a while it worked. As my responsibilities grew and I became more involved in the community, I knew the mental calendar was going to lead to disaster - not being where I needed to be or missing an important deadline does not lead to success in business.
Knowing I had to do something ,and being a non-techie ,I started a practice which worked for me. Every night before I left work I wrote a list of all the things I needed to do the next day. I placed it front and center on my desk so it was the first thing I saw in the morning. As I completed items on the list I'd cross them off with the fattest magic marker I could find. Most days, other things came up and not all the items were completed, but every time I made a slash with that marker, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I found that the least pleasant tasks often made it to the list for days on end and sometimes spilled over to the next week.
One day in the nineties I attended a seminar . The speaker talked about lists like mine - but with one difference. He called it "Eat the Frog". I can't remember the guy's name or even where the seminar was, but I don't want to take credit for someone else's idea. It is so simple:
Say you have a list of things to do today and one of them is to eat a frog. Instead of putting it at the bottom of the list, eat the frog first. Everything else you do that day will seem like a piece of cake. I started using that method and it made an incredible difference in my work and home life.
I promised myself that I'd continue to use the lists in retirement and for the most part I have. I stopped altogether on my recent trip out west. As a result, I probably wasted more time on the computer and just wandering around than I have in years. I was even less diligent with the crossword puzzle. Now I'm back home and back on track with the lists. I think they may be more important to me now that I have total freedom to use my time as I wish. There is nothing earth shattering on my lists but what's there keeps me focused and prevents wasting precious time. I finished today's list by 3:30 - so I rewarded myself by sitting in a chair watching Jeopardy. Here's tomorrow's list:
- Finish cleaning out bookcase
- Make Dr. appointments
- Call Lorraine and Elba
- Write 2 thank you notes
- Defrost salmon
- Go to the beach with my book
No frogs on this list - but I'll sure enjoy the beach a lot more if I do the other things first.