Even Santa Knows, Lists Can Be Naughty or Nice

The List.

I love lists.  Lists can be powerful productivity tools.  Or they can just be words on a page.  I want my lists to work for me.  So I turn my lists into Action Plans with a few simple steps.

Let’s turn that jumbled bunch of ideas into a list and then a useful, manageable Action Plan!

I worked with a client last week.  We were scheduled to work on a couple of projects, but when I arrived, she mentioned that what would really help her to feel organized was to plan for an upcoming brunch she was hosting for family.  She said she always got anxious about hosting big meals, and she really just wanted to enjoy her family this time!  Her goal was to be done and  leisurely sipping a cup of coffee 30 minute before the guests arrived.

Here is what we did:

Write it all down.   ALL OF IT.

Is your brain full?  Of thoughts and ideas and to-do’s, Oh My!

Every once in a while, I sit down and get all the thoughts and ideas and tasks out my head and down on paper.  I used to call this activity a Brain Dump, but that seemed inelegant, so my friend Jen came up with “Cranial Cleansing”.   This is a very useful activity!

Write it all down, don’t bother to edit.  Just get it all out.  And “write it all down” could also be “makes notes on your computer or smart phone or Ipad”.  I use either my Bullet Journal (by hand) or Evernote (technology) for such things!

With my client, we started with the notes she had already jotted down.  We added a lot more items, without editing, just adding them to the list!

The list included:

  • clean the house;
  • iron the napkins;
  • hang the wreath;
  • take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs;
  • organize the holiday storage closet;
  • make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe;
  • set the table;
  • wash the china and wine glasses;
  • decorate the Christmas tree;
  • make the grocery list;
  • go to the grocery;
  • pick up champagne and other beverages;
  • get the table linen cleaned and pressed;
  • take back returns;
  • put appetizer trays together;
  • print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem;
  • buy the paper to print up the photo and poem;
  • make or purchase desserts;
  • put together the salad;
  • clean the garage.

Make a Not Today or Not Now List.

A few items on my client’s list, like “Clean the Garage” and “Organize the Holiday Closet”, are good and worthwhile projects but were not necessary to the success of the Holiday Brunch.  So we put them on the “Not Right Now” list, and focused on the work in front of us!

Enlist Aid.  What can be delegated?

Fortunately, this client hires cleaning people a couple times a month, and they were scheduled for the next day.  Also, she and her husband would be home together on Saturday, and he had offered to take care of some of the errands.

Realistic Time Estimates.

This looks like a very long and overwhelming list, I know.  But when you start to break it down, most of these tasks are actually pretty short and to the point.  So we assigned time estimates to them all, so we could be more objective.

Assign a Day, sticking with your strengths.

As we worked on the list, my client mentioned she had a full day of work the next day, so we didn’t put too many tasks on that day (Friday).  Also, she likes to go to the grocery around 8 pm, as it tends to be empty that time of night.  So we worked with those details!

So, after the above steps were applied, our Action Plan looked something like this:

THURSDAY:

  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) hang the wreath
  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs
  • (Thursday, 20 minutes) make the grocery list
  • THURSDAY ERRANDS:
    • (Thursday, 10 minutes) drop off table cloth to be pressed
    • (Thursday, 30 minutes) buy the paper to print up the photo and poem

FRIDAY:

  • (Friday, Cleaning team) clean the house
  • (Friday or Saturday, 30 minutes) print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem
  • FRIDAY ERRAND
    • (Friday evening, 90 minutes with putting away) go to the grocery;

SATURDAY:

  • (Saturday, 45 minutes) make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe
  • (Saturday or Sunday, 20 minutes) put appetizer trays together
  • (Any day, picked Saturday, 10 minutes) iron napkins
  • SATURDAY ERRANDS (husband will run):
    • (Saturday, 10 minutes) pick up table cloth; cleaned and pressed
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) bakery to purchase desserts
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) pick up champagne and other beverages

SUNDAY:

  • (Sunday morning,  20 minutes) wash the china and wine glasses
  • (Sunday morning, 15 minutes) set the table
  • (Sunday morning, 20 minutes) put together the salad

Not Now List: 

  • take back returns;
  • clean the garage
  • organize the holiday storage closet;

We spent a little time and effort at the beginning, turning jumbled thoughts into a solid, easy to follow and completely manageable action plan!  What was really great was that once we completed this process, which was quick and easy and painless, we had time to tackle some of the items on her list!

How can you apply these steps to a current project?  Give it a try!

(P.S., I texted the client this afternoon to see how the brunch went, I’ll let you know her response next week!)

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
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