Aug 10, 2012

Posted by | 10 Comments

How to Write a “To Do List” You’ll Actually Use

With all the talk this week of organizing and planning for the new school year, You are likely thinking about all of the things you need to get done by the time students arrive on the first day.

Today I want to share my method of “To Do List” creation to help you organize your Back to School tasks. It seems so simple, but the way you organize your list (and the fact that you can actually locate your list and take action up on the items on the list) can really increase your productivity and even make you feel like you have it all under control (even if you don’t!- and who does!?)

My first recommendation would be to start with a master “To Do” list you keep in one place, with categories that fit your individual needs. I update my master list each week, transferring over any items that didn’t get finished that week to the new list. I’ve hand written or typed these lists, it really doesn’t matter. Here is a sample of a typical school week’s list (only usually I have more items but I didn’t want to bore you with them).

 

I also make a similar type of list at home for my personal items, categorized into things like cleaning/organizing, meals and cooking and bills to pay (you know, things we all deal with on a regular basis in addition to working full time jobs). This past week I’ve felt really disorganized and I realized why. I forgot to make my master list! For some reason I hadn’t created a new one this week and I felt lost. Because my head is not always the most reliable, I need to write everything down.  So apparently I need to put “Make a new List” on my To Do List. Confused yet?

Each morning I go ahead and transfer 3 items from the big list into my small list on a sticky note. Those are the things I need to/ want to accomplish that day. Then, they get crossed off the big list and the sticky gets tossed. Anything in addition to those items I consider “bonus” for that day.

This method works for me because it breaks down all of my tasks into manageable chunks and prevents me from feeling too overwhelmed. If I look at the big list too often, I will get really overwhelmed. Sometimes I hide it. Seriously. But it helps.

So, maybe you think I am nuts and have a simple iPhone App that helps you keep your list handy.  If so, please share. I’ve tried several Apps but they have not worked as well as the system I’ve just explained. To each their own!

 

Share with us how you organize your To Do List! 

Any good productivity apps out there you are hooked on? 

Pssst. If you thought all the Back to School resources were done, you were WRONG! Come back next week where the talk will be all about Classroom Management, setting up your expectations and procedures, controlling the chaos and noise, and engaging kids from the get go.  We want you to have a successful year in the art room. You won’t want to miss it! Plus, we have a really cool giveaway (maybe I’ve said to much. wink.) to help you manage your classroom. The whole AOE Team is pumped so don’t forget to log on!  See you then.

 

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  • Melissa Pruitt

    Mine is similar but not as organized.  I find physically writing things down helps me remember and stay focused on the day.  I also pick 1-3 things to focus on.  My one thing can be quite long and I am raising 4 kids so time is limited.  I count it a success if I get one thing done and have found if 3 things get done, it is a really good day!  Also, I will make a longer list at the beginning of the week and use that for the entire week at times.  Again, crossing 1-3 things off of it everyday.  This doesn’t work as well as writing a smaller list everyday.

  • http://www.theartofed.com/ Heather Crockett

    Post-its!  I would die without them! :)

  • http://www.artbke.blogspot.com/ Amanda Heyn

    I love the idea of categories! It helps to break it down into a few chunks, instead of one giant, daunting list. 

  • guest

    Make those bullet points on your list empty circles. It seems silly but when I get to fill them in the satisfaction will motivate me to get the next task done so I can fill in another!

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Love that!

  • Bonnie McDaniel

    I use Evernote. It syncs with my laptop, phone and ipad. It is a life saver!

  • Sue M

    This is similar to what I do, but I circle the check box for the 2-3 things that are the priority for the day. Then those items that get circled change as I cross things off the main list.

    Does anyone have ideas for how to store lessons plans? I use regular 9 x 12 file folders, but I often have tracers, extra xeroxes, and thick or oversize samples and they get really bulky. Also, right now I have them by grade level, but since lessons can often be worked well up or down the grades, I’m not sure this is the best way.

    • Courtney Kane

      File ’n Save System Chart Storage Box works for me, I have one for each grade level.

  • LAHeinig

    Gmail has an incredibly helpful feature called “tasks”. If you have never clicked on the dropdown arrow next to “mail” when looking at your inbox… do it now! Click tasks! Change your life!

    I also store my larger units in printer paper boxes which can help with weird visual items I don’t want to have out all the time or squish!

  • Daniel Bell

    I just bought a smart phone (Motorola Moto G for only $150 from Consumer Cellular) and downloaded the ToDoist app. I also installed the ToDoist apps on my desktops at home and at school and my list syncs all three automatically. It has a nice, clean format and lots of list organization features (categories, tasks and sub-tasks, notes, dates, etc.) I’m on the free version but I like it so much I plan to buy it. I know some people love stickies but I tend to lose them and I’m getting too forgetful to trust my memory.

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