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Task Management Tips
Okay, so, task management. Let's talk about it. From one anxious, overachieving, control freak to another, nothing overwhelms me more than a giant task list. But nothing brings me more comfort than jotting alllllllllll of those tasks onto one, big brain dump and then assigning them a time, a day, a week, or a month to get done. This giant brain dump automatically takes me down 12,000 freak out notches. And those 12,000 notches make going through the crazy, giant, sometimes scary task list part worth it.
Because, the tasks need a home that is not my brain. Ya know?
We got this.
Some people assign each day of the week a theme - ie: "I do admin on Mondays, creative on Tuesdays, writing on Wednesdays, etc." Some people assign each hour of the day a task - ie: "I check emails at 9am, 12pm, and 4pm and I do creative work from 10-1" This sort of planning doesn't work for me. I'm creative, I cannot tell myself to do admin when I'm in that juicy, creative flow. And when I'm in an admin flow (it happens...sometimes), I cannot tell myself to be in the creative flow.
What I do is live by my lists and it's the heart behind my planner designs. I have a list system combined with a few "must get done today" tasks that helps me manage to get all of the things done and run my business and create new products while also being a (mostly) present mama to two little ones and get them from school and volunteer at their school? And all of the things? [insert deep breath] Well, sometimes I break down and lose it. But, mostly, I just live by my lists.
The truth is that, for a creative project, if you aren't in the zone on a Tuesday, you CANNOT make yourself do the write/create work on a Tuesday just because it's scheduled then. Sometimes, sure, you just have to make yourself do it - Listen, I've been there and you can tell from the design, but at least it got my draft one done? But, it doesn't always have to be forced. You need something with more flexibility like a few lists that have enough hard edges to know that, no matter what, even if you aren't in the zone, have to get done that week or month, but they also have enough flexibility that you can get them done at some point each week or month.
And let's settle this fear right now: As a creative person, you are never ever going to have a full week where you don't have at least one day where you are in the zone. As a task-oriented person who is gifted in administration, you are never ever going to have a full week where you don't have a least one day where you are in the zone. Don't let that toxic scarcity and fear-based thinking creep in. Live by your lists and intuitively follow what your brain and heart at up to each day.
Want to know my lists?
- FUTURE DREAMS AND IDEAS LIST: This usually goes in the back pages of my planner. I can review it or add to it whenever I want and then, when I am searching for a new thing, I can easily refer to it to see if anything still speaks to me. This helps with scarcity when I get a new idea - that toxic thinking that "it must be done right now or I'll lose the idea!" and it also helps me marinate on ideas before jumping in too quickly, at the detriment of all of the things I really and truly DID need to get done that day/week.
- TO DO THIS MONTH LIST: These ideas go in my "to do this month" calendar section of my planner. These are things that just need to get done that month and when I'm feeling in the zone or have a day or a minute or whatever, I can look at that list, evaluate if I actually do have time, and then cross some stuff off! Sometimes this happens on a Saturday morning when the kids are occupied or on a Tuesday afternoon! I never know. But it's helpful to always have that list there, in full view of what I'm doing each day. (That's why I designed my planners the way I did!)
- TO DO THIS WEEK LIST: This one gets filled out weekly. These are all of the things I need to get done that week. Again, doesn't matter when, just that they get done. If it *does* matter when, then I assign that task an actual day. And - here's the hard truth - I just make myself do that thing when I need to do it. Even if it's the worst. I reward myself with lattes and wine :) My "to do this week" list builds as the week goes on, but usually I pull the things from that list and assign them a day as the week goes on.
- TO DO TODAY LIST: This goes either in my day's to-do list section or in the block of time I've actually set apart for work in my planner. I usually put in the next day's task the day before. So, on Monday, I see what I actually got done, and insert things into Tuesday that need to get done then. If I had planned accounting for Monday, but woke up feeling creative, then I'm always going to choose the creative projects if they are there. I know those days are like gold. So I move my boring work into Tuesday. If I wake up creative on Tuesday, too, I usually move the boring work again knowing that, at some point, that boring work WILL need to get done that week, but pushing it a day is okay. If I get to Friday and I still haven't gotten the boring work done, I buy myself a latte and dig in. That's called self-discipline and is just plain necessary when you own a business :)
- BRAIN DUMP LIST: I make this list a few times each month. The first brain dump is as I'm filling in a new month - I just dump all of the tasks living in my brain onto a piece of paper and then set up the next month. Then I make another weekly, during my beat the "Sunday Scaries" planning time. And sometimes I even make one at night before bed so that I can sleep. Again, anxious overachiever here. Raise your hand if you're surprised? No? No one?
Each and every day, I am adding to my lists, assigning them days, and crossing things off. There are so many ways to arrange your lists - by categories, weekly/monthly/daily, etc. Just so many ways. Like, hi, TED Talker managers, I could speak on this at length (obviously).
For some video details on task and time management check out our Time Management YouTube video. She's fun, I promise.