Getting Stuff Done

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

~Henry David Thoreau

On a scale of one to ten I’d give myself a five in organization. I’m a fanatic about making lists, but only middling at sticking to my priorities. Perhaps it’s just a by-product of mothering little children, but often at the end of a day I feel like I did a million things but left key important tasks undone. The haze of activity was not moving me closer to my goals, and because my busyness was not in line with my priorities, I wasn’t ending many days feeling satisfied with what I accomplished.

Recently I read Simple Mom’s thoughts on home management and decided to give her free Daily Docket system a try to see if it would help me get back on track. I’ve been using her Pocket Docket for a few weeks now. Each day has a spot to note what’s for dinner (helpful in remembering to thaw meat or soak beans or chop stuff in advance), space for a ten item to do list, lines for scheduled appointments, and a spot for making notes. Those categories fit my needs perfectly, although at first I balked at only having ten items on my to do list, and also at the notion of designating only three of those as Most Important Tasks.

On the face of it, the concept of picking three most important tasks to accomplish in a day, or limiting myself to only ten items on a to-do list seemed ridiculous. Which items get dropped off? “Sorry kids, there will be no dinner tonight because I changed the baby’s diapers and did two loads of laundry and made four beds and took a shower, which only left two slots for meals and those were taken by breakfast and lunch…”

However as I looked over my dockets from the past few weeks I started to realize that apart from the daily stuff that just HAS to be done (diapers, meals, basic hygiene) I really do only get about ten things done in a day. Seeing them listed out, and seeing which things I consistently did NOT get crossed off my lists, helped me see how I was spending my time and where I was not being true to my priorities.

It helped me to ask myself which things I need to accomplish to feel successful about a day. When I saw items starred on my list going undone, I had to ask myself why I wasn’t doing those things. I began to consider how I could reorder my day to get my priorities taken care of before getting sucked in to less important tasks. For some reason those little stars really jog my brain and make me more mindful of my time.

I’m still working on it, but I do think that the docket idea has helped me. How do you stay organized? What tools have helped you translate your priorities into action?

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