As entrepreneurs, we have a lot to manage. In addition to normal demands on our time–household chores, relationships, errands, groceries, e-mail, bills–we have our passion to pursue! This often involves networking, meetings, conference calls, creating and updating social media, marketing, bookkeeping, product designing…and the list continues, sometimes in addition to holding a full-time job! Getting things effectively checked off our ever-growing to-do lists requires efficient planning and organization.
I’m a “P” personality type, according to Meyer’s Briggs, which essentially means that when left in my natural state, I go-with-the-flow, have amazing friendships and a lot of fun, but live with the guilt that I’ve let essential things slide, most importantly my passions of creating sustainable social enterprises. How-to books like David Allen’s Getting Things Done have helped me develop basic life skills for managing these many tasks effectively.
Allen’s primary recommendation is that we de-clutter our brains by jotting down everything we need to do in some sort of list. If an activity can be completed in less than 2 minutes, do it immediately, otherwise assign it to a list. While Allen has a crazy exhaustive list of lists to keep track of, I’ve found the following to work well for me:
- Yearly planner for thinking ahead when the best time to do something would be (I try to limit a day’s activities to 2-3 items, after working 8 hours, or 4-5 on weekend days)
- Grocery list on my refrigerator door
- Shopping list in my iPhone
- Phone calendar for meetings and scheduled events
- Comprehensive Word doc to-do list where things I know I won’t get to in the next week, or possibly the next month even, live. This list includes titles of books to read and movies to watch.
- A Gmail task list for my daily work activities
- A 30 Things to do when 30 list for fun
- A list of the next dozen blog posts topics I want to write about
So maybe I am competing with Allen when it comes to keeping lists! But lists, if followed, help create a time and space for actions, for getting things done. As professional organizer Regina Leeds eloquently stated, “So how do we quiet the clutter? We clear the debris. We create systems to handle the things we want to keep by giving them a designated place to live. And we honor what we have created.” (p. xi, The 8 Minute Organizer).