A 30-second plan for a better week

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Your life


to-do-list.jpgUnless this is your first visit to this blog, you know I’m a sucker for lists, goals, and plans. Well, guess what — I’ve got another idea of a list for you.

Every Sunday night I sit down with a notebook (still very much into writing things down, sorry all of you techies) and write down my to-do list. I get work stuff done first, then write down family/personal to-dos. While I aim to just make it a one-day list for Monday, it never works — it ends up being more of a week to-do list. I like this process because it helps me get an idea of what I need to accomplish and what I need to remember.

But the list is usually really long. So once I’ve got it down, I go through it again — I put a star next to some items which are important, I circle others, which I know I just can’t forget. It ends up being more messy than I’d like.

After I finished my list tonight I looked at it and then opened a new, fresh page and wrote down the following:

  • 1 thing I MUST do this week at work:
  • 1 thing I MUST do this week at home:
  • 1 thing I will do for me this week:
  • 1 thing I will do daily this week:
  • 1 thing I will let go this week:

I filled in the blank after each of these bullet points, ripped out the page, and put it next to my computer. There is something refreshing about this very short list of very important things I want to remember for this week. It’s not a replacement of my to-do list, but a kind of executive summary, a quick daily reminder of what HAS to get done.

All of your organizing wizards are shaking your heads, thinking this is so obvious I should have been doing this already. For the rest of us, I hope this is something that can help you organize your ultra-busy life and focus on some key priorities.

I have to say, the last bullet point is my favorite. I’m trying to learn to let some things go. There, now you know — I’m a non-perfectionist in the making (it’s going to be a LONG process!) I think it’s something all of us busy working moms should try to do — let stuff go. So this week, I’m going to ignore the dust. Yes, it’s something I need to learn to ignore, you can go and make fun of me now.

Do you make a quick list like this? Do you have other ways of organizing your to-do list that you find helpful? Share, we can all learn something!

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5 comments so far...

  • My husband is the list maker for our family. Every Sunday he makes out the list and divides stuff up and hands me my section. I do my own list for work of course. He’s not that nice!

    Sister Honey Bunch  |  January 21st, 2008 at 8:58 am

  • Oh yes, I use my daily planner Moleskine every day. I never go to work without it. I use my PDA, but nothing beats the feeling of writing something down or sketching out my plan in thumbanils for the week.

    kim  |  January 21st, 2008 at 1:24 pm

  • I am adopting a plan called “Zen to Done”, developed by Leo Babuota of the Zen Habits blog. One thing I do is write out the “Big Rocks” (in other words, the most important items) that need to get done during the week (up to 6 things, that’s the tricky part!) Then I stake out time in my calendar when I’ll attend to those things. Then each day I come up with 1-3 “most important tasks” to do (some of them are the weekly big rocks) and try to do them as early as possible. This helps me prioritize and it also helps me reflect back on the day or week and see success. If I get more done than the big rocks and most important tasks, that’s great. Since my weakness is seeing all tasks as super-important, this method helps me decide what to let go of and what to keep.

    Heather Mundell  |  January 21st, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  • One of my favorite points on your list is the “1 Thing I will do for me this week”. One of the most important things I do for “Me” time is get a massage. Balancing my work schedule with my kids’ schedules and attending to the duties of household life can often be overwhelming, and a day at the spa is very balancing. I’m from NJ and there’s this wonderful place I just discovered called Massage Envy (I highly recommend it to any working NJ moms out there!) I think that while planning and task lists are essential to a succesful week, allow yourself to forget all that during one hour of deep-tissue bliss.

    layla  |  January 22nd, 2008 at 9:44 am

  • Nataly,

    Great post!

    My list has morphed into my own version of a to do list. I used to use a planner but my issue with the one that I had was there wasn’t enough room on it for “my notes”. And then I could have gotten another one (bigger) but then it would be too heavy. Now, I use a spiral notebook to list out my daily to do lists however, I use the Franklin Covey method of prioritizing these tasks. The BIGGEST move for me was to only put down the 6 things I would like accomplish for the day. IF and only if I complete those 6 things, do I add more tasks for that day. This way, I have a greater sense of accomplishment because I have completed those things I really wanted to get done AND most of the time more than that.

    I agree with Nataly and Kim about writing things down. I am not sure what it is about writing my things to do but it seems to work best for me as well. I also carry around a recorder ($20 at Staples) to help me remember things to put on my list. This works well when I am out in my car especially.

    As Heather mentioned, she scopes out the “big rocks” and then that helps. I use the Franklin Covey “system” for prioritizing tasks of placing A, B, C. A is for those things that you can’t put off, REALLY. Your boss will fire you or your client will be upset with you if you don’t. B is for those things you would like to get done. C is for those things that can wait. Most of the time I don’t really have any C’s on my pages. If I don’t have to do them that day…I just don’t add them. And then I take each set of A’s, B’s and then mark them 1,2,3, etc.

    As Layla pointed out, giving yourself time without worrying about work such as a massage, or a haircut, chilling out with a magazine, hot bath….be sure to SCHEDULE time for YOU.


    Teresa Morrow
    Key Business Partners
    Virtual Assistance & Online Promotion for
    Coaches, Speakers and Writers

    Teresa Morrow  |  January 24th, 2008 at 5:36 pm