I love lists! To-do lists, grocery lists, project lists, lists of ideas, dream lists, goal lists, things to research lists, lists of lists. I love all the lists.
I joked recently on a call with my team that I can create lists and plans for days! Give me a piece of paper and a pen and I will create an incredible road map. My struggle is in the execution. Can you relate?
One of the things I’ve found incredibly helpful in execution — and in planning — is categorizing lists. When I break down tasks into buckets, it gives me a clearer picture of what needs to get done.
One BIG list of every single thing can feel scary, like the elephant in the room. It’s just there. It’s hard to make progress on, it’s hard to even talk or think about because there’s no structure to it. Intermixed with a work task is an appointment I need to make for my daughter, and an item I need to grab next time I’m at the store. Uncategorized lists are overwhelming.
Categorizing your lists creates clarity. It serves as a visual reminder of the buckets of things you need to get done. It allows like-minded or like-action tasks to be collected together which in turn helps with batching (more on that in a minute!).
The right side of our Week on One Page planner spread is a quadrant list page. This is one of my favorite and most used features in the weekly planner. I lean on that quadrant list pages as a way to categorize my day-to-day to-dos along with chipping away at projects throughout the week. The quadrant list section is the best way to keep even the most chaotic of to-do lists in check!
I also rely on our Brain Dump Notepad as a way to categorize bigger project lists or long-term to-dos. It’s helpful when I just need space to write it all out and make a million lists. This handy little notepad takes our beloved quadrant list page from the weekly planner and makes it even more accessible. Plus it’s super cute!
Now let’s talk about batching tasks. I mentioned last week that batching tasks is a way to combat an overwhelming schedule. I know from research (and my personal experience!) that switching gears throughout the day is not only inefficient, it’s also exhausting. It takes way more time and energy to switch gears from varying tasks than we think.
When I’m being most productive, I am batching tasks throughout the day. If my daily schedule consists of conference calls, responding to emails, and writing, I will get more done and be less drained at the end of the day if I find blocks of time to get those tasks accomplished. I’m getting all my calls down in one block of time, then switch to responding to emails, then writing for a block of time.
Life doesn’t always fit neatly into those perfect time blocks, but I try my best to create that structure for myself. My family and my team know that Mondays are my writing days. It has helped tremendously as I work on my first book — EEK! Even typing that still gives me chills of excitement!
Categorizing your lists is a game-changer! Check out these other posts for more insight into how I make and utilize lists including the best place to put all your lists (hint: they need to be in one central spot so you aren’t constantly looking for them!), why and how I index my lists, and a list I try to make every single day!