There are millions of organizing products, books and apps out there. I like some approaches better than others, for sure, but each one will hopefully give you a good tip or two. However the best organizing advice doesn't have a trademarked acronym or a celebrity endorsement. It's all about how you start.
It may not be trendy but it's simple - make a list. It's that easy. In fact most organizing, career and self-help books will tell you to start finding your new path with a list. Their patented formulas for finding success are bound to be different, but they all start with a list. Brainstorm your ideas. Gather up your dreams. Plan out your project goals. List, list, list. Only then do you start working on their system to reach glory. But what would happen without the list?
It's the way you should start solving any problem. Make a list. How you create, keep track and cross off your list items shows your personality and flair. Your list making choices can bring success, frustration or even failure. Some people will lose their lists. Some will add items they've already completed just so they can cross something off (this is completely me I'm talking about). Some lists will have stickers and colors and embellishments galore.
Lists are often created on scraps of paper, in an expensive leather bound journal or in a digital format. My favorite list making app is currently Wunderlist. It's free, you can share lists with others and add photos and links to your list items. It also has a satisfying sound as you check off things you've done that appeals to me tremendously.
Planners and calendars often have a blank to do list section in the back for random ideas that pop into your head. My small business planner, of course, has several. I find getting more specific than "To Do" gives your list items a better chance at getting done. I often title my lists with specific categories like "Home Project List" or "Gift Ideas." One huge master list just overwhelms me.
This year I am using the app Santa's Bag as my Christmas list for the holidays. It has a running budget, pricing, and even tracks each item's status (idea, need to buy, purchased, wrapped or given). You can also hide gifts in your home without fear by tagging their location in the app. Brilliant!
The most successful lists have one major thing in common and it's not color coding. Assigning a date to the tasks on your list makes them much more likely to get done. Think about it - saying you want to paint a room is great. Putting it on a list helps get that idea going as a project. But picking a weekend to visit the paint store and putting that on your schedule gets it done.
Which brings me to the best list of all: your calendar. It's an organized list of items you want to do or places you need to go, at the times you need to be there. Without my Google calendar my life could not function. Without my business paper planner my business could not function. Either way - paper or digital - this is one list you simply have to have.
If you are often late to appointments or forget things, your calendar is probably to blame. Examine it and find out why. Get a prettier one if you are not inspired to use what you've got. Maybe it's too big so you seldom carry it around with you. Your simple solution is to buy a smaller version. Or you're trying to use a digital calendar your friend recommended but you are really a paper person. Change formats and forget what works for others. Do what works for you.
So grab your fresh, improved calendar and start filling it out right. Before you do anything, start with your favorite new approach - make a list! Write down ALL your to dos and be realistic about your time. Use highlighters, sticky notes or a simple pencil you can erase. List the must dos and the fun stuff, too. Whatever you do, just keep making those lists.