I am very aware that I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the most efficient way to do things and while that’s a good thing to do, it sometimes gets in the way of actually ‘doing’ stuff. For the past 25 days I’ve been working on commitments I’ve made and have been doing well chipping away at them, but there are some days where I wake up not knowing what to do next.
I remember hearing Ali Edwards remark on a PaperClipping podcast, when asked how she gets so much stuff done, “I just do the next thing on the list.” I actually had to rewind that a couple of times to make sure I heard her correctly. It hit me like a bolt of lightning, the pure genius of her comment as well as the simplicity.
As you know, I have an affection for lists, so this organizational lightening bolt really got my attention. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a process that incorporates my scheduled commitments and the steps needed to get ready. I can become incredibly overwhelmed with how much I need to work on as well as fight with feelings that say “I don’t feel like doing [insert activity] today.” I’m working on the moral fortitude to push past the temptation to skip the item and I’m ready to show you what I’ve come up with. Keep in mind, this is all a work in progress, but this is something that I’ve been working with for about a week now.
I call it the Next Step. I pulled out my calendar for the next 3 months and placed each activity/appointment in a purple box. There’s no rational for the color choice other than I just like purple. Then under each activity/appointment, I put another box indicating what I believe is the next step. Then after that step, I put another box outlining the step after that and so on. The initial box is purple, orange boxes are for steps involving going to the store, light blue boxes are for phone calls/texts/emails, apple green boxes are for steps that take 1/2 hour or less and lavender boxes are for steps that will take an hour or that I’m willing to work on an hour at a time. You’ll notice that I have some boxes that are white. These are steps that really should be moved to the top, colored purple and broken down even further.
The colors help me to see at a glance how much time I need to devote to projects and allows me to see how much I’ve committed to and where to pull in the reins. It forces me to think through the steps needed, consolidate chores like shopping and phone calls and gives me options about how I want to spend my time. Each day I review my ‘Next Step’ chart, cross off items I’ve completed, and add relevant steps to my Daily To Do List. I like seeing a global view of my life and commitments as well as knowing what my daily to-dos are.
It is by no means a comprehensive system and I’m still working out glitches, but it works for how I think and for my needs. Keeping up with the changes that I’ve implemented over the past 25 days has meant that I’ve needed to add tools (like the ‘Next Step’ chart) that help me to be successful.
“The only steps we understand are the ones we take as we go out the door for our walk. Are there other kinds?”