Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mommy's got a brand-new to-do list

I just read Take the Cake, a collection of you-go-gal essays for working women about how to make the most of your time and find balance as a working mom. In spite its amateurish cover and typesetting, it's a nice enough book full of common and uncommon sense about budgeting, finance, parenting, organization and every other topic women's magazines cycle through every 12 months.

But there was one real gem in there, a totally radical (and radically simple) twist on the to-do list.

Here it is: divide your page into 4 quadrants. Label them "me," "work," "family," and "volunteer." Organize the tasks you need to complete (not big projects, tasks) into the appropriate quadrants and highlight those that can be completed in 15 minutes or less (I used an asterisk).

Put everything on the list, from taking your exercise class to researching your next vacation destination to calling the dentist to schedule an appointment. Tackle a 15 minute item whenever you have a spare moment and start a new list weekly, transferring over any items that didn't get done the first week. It's lame, but I get a charge out of crossing items off my to-do list, and adding everything I want to get done (even those low-priority, no-particular-deadline items) had greatly increased my productivity.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Take the Cake as a part of the From Left to Write book club.