Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tackling the Big To-Dos

When my daughter was little, my sister gave me some great advice. One tidbit that she doesn't even remember sharing was to choose just a few (no more than three) sources of advice on parenting (authors, magazines, etc.) and to go back to one of those sources when I was on parenting advice overload.

Oddly enough, I've discovered over the years that I almost automatically do the same thing in other areas. This fall, I've planned courses on writing, organization and ADHD and, in each of those three areas, I had favorite resources - and I usually could limit myself to just a few.

In the area of organization, I have exactly three, two of which I return to frequently. The first was Dorothy Lehmkuhl, who introduced me to the concept of right-brain organizing. From there, I moved on to Julie Morgenstern and Marcia Ramsland, both of whom I referenced in my last post, and, if I scroll back, probably others as well. Morgenstern is my primary reference on organization, but Ramsland is my go-to girl, so to speak, on time management.

Consequently, I've been thumbing through my Ramsland books lately as I try to manage what looks like an abundance of time on paper, but never seems to be enough in reality. I've got the to-do list thing down...I can knock out an amazing number of tiny droplet tasks in a day.

It's the projects that get me. So I pulled out Ramsland's Simplify Your Time and there it was. Day 11. Pursue a Personal Project List.

Wait. You mean I have to do more than just set aside a day for a major project and hope for the best?

Uh huh.

Ramsland gives lots of advice - all of it simple and easy to follow. In my world, though, it boils down to two things: break it down and write it down. Or, Ramsland's Time Saving Tip #36: Write your projects at the top of your monthly calendar and list the first steps on dates to help you get going.

It's funny how there really is a time and a season to everything under heaven. I read this book ages ago. I even highlighted things in the chapter. But until I got the day-to-day system working in more than just a haphazard fashion, Ramsland's project advice (other experts substitute "goals" for "projects") was just a book on a shelf, waiting for someone to retrieve it and open it to the right page.

You see, I had to need the advice before it became worthwhile. And, as I found myself continuing to trip over pile at the intersection of my old life and my new one, I needed advice, at the very least.

So, it's time to add projects to my crazy color-coded list. Project title at the top of the page and baby steps throughout the month. And hey, when you're five feet tall, baby steps are about as good as it gets.

I'm ready. First up? Christmas.

Might as well start big.

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