When people ask me what is the key to staying organized and running an organized household, I tell them that you have to take the time to plan. Think about it- when it comes to appointments and setting aside time for vacations, we all manage “the big stuff” fairly well using some sort of a calendar system. Some of us like calendars that we keep on our computers and sync up to our phones and tablets, and some of us like to write things down in planners or on big wall calendars, but generally- every one of us keeps some sort of a calendar. (You can read here about why I feel you should commit to using an electronic calendar system, or check out my video on how to use an electronic calendar for more information).
But you also need to be able to stay on top of all of the smaller things- like the chores that need to be completed each week to run your household such as the grocery shopping, laundry, and dusting and vacuuming. Then there are things you really intend to do- but unless you create a place for them on your schedule, they don't happen- things like working out or cleaning out your junk drawer. And when you don't get these little things done- they weigh on you- and make you feel as if you'll never be organized. So today, we are going to focus on building a better to do list. One that is integrated with your electronic calendar- so it is all in one place. One that “saves a space” on Wednesdays to do laundry, and at least 4 days a week to exercise. And by putting it all together in one place so you can just print it and review it and not have to create it from scratch every day- it will make your life easier! So let's do it…. let's…
Build a Better To Do List!
Whether you are a Google Calendar or iCal calendar user, you have the ability to create multiple calendars within your system. If you are using one of these electronic calendars, chances are- all of your appointments and everything you have added to it, are all assigned to one color- and loaded onto one calendar. Today we are going to add a second calendar to your system…. In Google Calendar, go to My Calendars on the left side of the page, click the down arrow and select “Create a New Calendar”, and if you are in iCal, got to File, New Calendar, and select where you want the calendar to live (iCloud). Name your new calendar “To Do List” and give it another color so it will be visibly different than the calendar you use for appointments, etc.
Now if you share your appointment calendar with your significant other- this is one that you probably don't want to share… unless you are trying to make a point of how much you do! (Don't know how to share your appointment calendar? In Google Calendar, select the calendar you wish to share from the list on the left side of the screen, click the down arrow and then “Share this Calendar”. Then enter the email address (the one that is associated with their Google account) of the person you wish to share your calendar with, and set their permissions. They will then receive an email inviting them to accept your calendar subscription which will then populate their Google calendar. To do this in iCal- go to Calendar, Sharing Settings.)
Add “Events” to Your To Do List
Now start adding items to your new To Do List calendar, creating a new event for things you need to do every single week. I add my items as “all day” events, because I am not assigning these tasks to specific times of the day. I make sure the event is set up to repeat every week, and I make sure that I am adding this item to my correct calendar (to do list, not appointment calendar).
Brainstorm all of those chores that you do each week, and get them in here. Make sure to add exercise events 4-6 days a week too.
Limit Your Views
Arrrggghh! Once you start adding all of these things onto your calendar, it looks messy and overwhelming doesn't it? And you are picturing yourself standing at the doctor's office trying to schedule an appointment and having to scroll through a long list of chores on your schedule, aren't you? Well it doesn't have to look like this! When looking at a monthly view of your calendar- you can hide your “to do items from showing. In Google Calendar, simply click on your “To Do List” calendar, and hide it from display. In iCal, click the calendar button at the top and then uncheck “To Do List”. Don't worry- all of your information is still there- it's just not cluttering up your monthly view!
But when printing your calendar in a weekly list- this is when you want to include your To Do list calendar as well as your appointments. Now you can see everything in one place, and you don't need to pencil in all of the things that you do each week.
Spend a Little Time Planning
On Sundays I like to print my weekly calendar for the week ahead, and sit down and review my appointments and to do list items, penciling in additional to-do's onto my calendar where needed. Then each day- usually in the morning while eating breakfast, I'll look at what I need to accomplish during that day, and I'll assign a number to each item so I can stay on task and (attempt) to get it done.
Of course- nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing the items off of the list!
What About That Long List of Stuff I Hope to Someday Get To?
That kind of stuff… a long running to do list of all of the things around the house or items for the blog that I hope to eventually accomplish go on a “master to do list”. I have tried apps for managing my master to do list, and even keeping them in fancy notebooks, but what I really love best is just a good old-fashioned college-ruled pad of paper and pencil. It's just how I think best!
Want to See All of This in Action?
Then watch my video on Building a Better To Do List:
What do you think? Could getting your to-do list into your electronic calendar help you to stay more organized? Please leave me a comment and let me know if you're willing to try it!