Creating a Project Management Notebook: The Right To-Do List

Creating a Project Management Notebook: The Right To-Do List

For years I tried to manage all I had to do on one to-do list. I tried prioritizing that list using various methods, all without success.

The problem with having one list is it’s like trying to force a semi-truck to drive down a country lane next to a bicycle. Or force my size 9 feet into dainty size 6 shoes. Some things just don’t fit. Here’s an example of what my list used to look like:

1. Make orthodontist appointment for Robbie
2. Plan Dylan’s birthday party
3. Deposit check
4. Redesign blog
5. Buy dog food
6. Clean the house

These are all normal things a woman might do. So, what was the problem?

The problem is three of those items aren’t simple tasks. Calling the orthodontist’s office takes one step, and it’s done. Boom. Check that baby off the list! But planning a party, redesigning a blog, and clean the house are made up of multiple tasks. To put them on a to-do list is just asking for failure.

Here’s what I’ve learned: cleaning the house isn’t a task. It’s a project. Projects don’t belong on a to-do list. Only single-step tasks belong there.

Once I realized the mistake I’d been making for years, I tossed my to-do list and started fresh.

Then I did something brave. I did a complete inventory of everything I needed to do. It took days to complete. I decided to include immediate needs and everything I’d been putting off. The small and the big all got listed.

Once I was sure I’d captured everything, I sat down and had a good cry. My life was seriously out of control.

Drying my tears, I reviewed the monstrous list and divided it into two categories: one-step tasks and multi-step projects. That was better. But I wasn’t done yet. I looked at all the projects, and realized some of them were urgent and others weren’t. Then I divided that list into current and future projects.

There was one more step. Since every big project is completed one step at a time, I realized I needed to add tasks to each of my projects. So I got some more paper and started to list all the tasks I could think of for each project.

These lists became the foundation of my project management notebook. And yes, I did put it in a three-ring binder. I know I could have created a digital notebook, but there was something about putting it on paper that made it real for me. Although I still had a lot to do, having it all in one place brought relief.

Now, writing my to-do list for the day is like going to a buffet and picking a piece of chicken here and a scoop of mac and cheese there. I look over my master lists and only put on my to-do list the tasks I can realistically accomplish that day. I might pick a simple task, like make an appointment, then pull another task from a project list.

This system revolutionized my approach to getting work done. It also eliminated a few of my reasons for procrastination, which included forgetting things (now they were in my safe place) and feeling overwhelmed when I looked at a big project on my to-do list.

Now my to-do list might have five items on it, rather than 25. Five is much more manageable. And when I finish those five, I can go back for more from my project management list.

Over the years, this system has actually helped me manage my workload so well that I don’t have to create massive master lists anymore. The process helped me realize I’d taken on too much, and I did some serious editing. But when I get overloaded—and it still does happen—I know to go back and create that master list again.

Heavenly Father, thank You for creating order. Help me bring order to my to-do list and manage my workload more efficiently. I want to bring glory to you in every area of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you need more margin in your life, you might appreciate this recent post on Glynnis’ blog.

Create a master list of everything you need to do – now and in the future. Put it all in one place and then divide it into tasks and projects.

surprising clutter

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Hello, my fellow FLINGERS!

I’m so excited to fling 1,000 things with you between now and July 14. Are you ready to suit up and show up over the next five weeks or are you still on the fence? If you haven’t committed to the Five-Week Fling, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Shame? Or are you too overwhelmed to know where to begin?

Well, let me tell you, friends. I have been there and back, and here’s what I have to say about all of that: Take my hand and let me lead you out of despair.

Ground rules for the five-week fling

I know. 1,000 things in five weeks sounds daunting, but we’re going to tackle it in bite-size chunks. More importantly, we’re going to do it together. But before we begin, let’s set some ground rules:

  1. Progress beats perfection. Whether you fling 10 things or 1,000 things, you’re one step closer to winning back your home – and your life – than you were before you began.
  2. No blame, no shame. We are all at different stages of our Clutter Free journey, and that’s OK. We’re going to jump in where we’re at with a focus on moving ourselves forward.
  3. Weekends off (if you want). The program is built around the idea of taking weekends for rest, but be flexible. You can use all or part of your weekends to catch up or, if you prefer, average out your flings so you’re tossing 30 a day every day instead of 40 a day five days a week.
  4. Pick your pain point. Every single one of us has a part of our home that makes us cringe. The place that allows Clutter to scold you. Start thinking of that place now so you confront it first when we begin.
  5. Join us on Facebook. The No. 1 perk of this program is the 24/7 support you receive from our private Facebook group designed for you by people just like you. This is where you see how Clutter Free changes lives, and where your life changes as well.

Now that you know the ground rules, you can jump into the Five-Week Fling with the confidence of knowing you’ll succeed. Make sure you subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on program updates and other resources related to Clutter Free. Are you ready to fling 1,000 things? Join us today.

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

eliminate 1,000 things

We’ve been flinging clutter left and right this year. Between our Clutter Free Bible Study during Lent and the Spring Fling we just wrapped up in May, I’ve noticed a few things.

First, you are all a bunch of rock stars. Fling 200 things in 10 days? Piece of cake. Our Facebook group is overflowing with the most astonishing before-and-after photos of your successes. I’m thrilled to see not just what you’ve done in your homes, but also the freedom you gained from flinging the stuff that no longer brings you joy.

Here’s what else I’ve noticed. Life doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to gain control over this area of your life. Stuff keeps coming in the house – sometimes faster than you can release it – and it doesn’t always belong to you. If other people live in your home, their stuff can pose an even bigger challenge than your own.

How to eliminate 1,000 things in 5-weeks!

So here’s the deal. We are Clutter Free because we love a good challenge, and we work best when we’re under the gun. Starting June 12 and ending July 14, we’re hosting a Five-Week Fling to help you eliminate 1,000 things from your home. Gone for good.

Here’s how it works:

1. Over five weeks (weekends off to rest or catch up), we’re going to work together to eliminate 40 things a day from various parts of your home.

2. In our private Facebook group, you’ll share your victories and progress photos, and get accountability, encouragement and support every step of the way.

3. To participate, just make sure you are signed up to receive our blog, and then join our Facebook group.

So let’s see, only five weeks and 1,000 things out of your house? What a great way to launch your summer.

Won’t you join our Five-Week Fling? Your house will thank you.

Join the Spring Fling Now!
Clutter-Free Work: Free to Work in a Clutter-Free Zone

Clutter-Free Work: Free to Work in a Clutter-Free Zone

clutter free work

But all things should be done decently and in order.”  1 Corinthians 14:40

Ever felt frustrated or overwhelmed in your work efforts due to clutter around you?

You tell yourself you will get to it . . . eventually.

You don’t have time to declutter because your workload is pressing in on you.

Frustration turns into condemnation, so now working is made more difficult by the mental energy you must utilize just to do work. Deadlines are missed. Papers cannot be found. And the demands of life around you make it seemingly impossible to focus.

Clutter-Free Work

I get it. As a mom of five in a crazy busy life, sometimes I have felt like managing all the work around me, along with everyone else’s work (because moms are evidently supposed to manage everything), is overwhelming.

Our work environment matters.

Like a hamster, we keep running on our wheel thinking our work will be different, but the cluttered area surrounding us keeps us hampered and confined.

We could do so much more, but we continue to operate in the same manner, hoping we will still get the work done. Sounds kind of like that definition of insanity . . . doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Seems like a hopeless situation. But the very thing we tell ourselves we can’t make the time to do will actually give us the space to be able to work in a more effective manner.

We accomplish more when we have space and organization to work.

There is a misconception behind work clutter that needs to be debunked. It is not necessarily the amount of work that is the problem – it is how we work that does.

I have found that having more responsibilities requires me to be more organized. When every task has its place in space and time in my life, then I am not overwhelmed by tasks that seem to be too much.

Creating a clutter-free work zone is done physically, mentally and spiritually.

Physically

  • What is it that is in our space that we don’t regularly use for work? Is there a space in our home where we can do some of our work that frees us up to think? Perhaps taking a laptop and working on the back porch for some projects will rejuvenate our vision for work and not make you feel trapped in between 4 walls.
  • Maybe shelving units or a closet can also store work items (not thrown in the closet – too many skeletons in there) so we do not feel encumbered or stressed by a lot of “stuff” around us.

Mentally

  • Utilizing tools like Evernote to track “to do’s” that infringe on brain capacity takes the mental energy out of busy work lives.
  • We don’t have to allow our “to do” list to rule us. Make changes as needed.
  • Having a specific time for projects frees us up to do the work at hand, knowing we have time to do the other projects, too.

Spiritually

  • God is a God of order and having structure glorifies Him. When we are not hindered by our environment, we are better able to glorify God in our work and all we do.

Maybe it is the work itself that you dread. This article on The Hope in Work is motivation to keep pressing on in the work God has given us to do. Every task matters when it is offered as service to the King of kings.

Ultimately, we determine where and when we will work. Let the truth behind this power free you to set up your work space in the way that works best for you. Doing so will increase your productivity and help you to create a place in which God can use you mightily. Don’t have time to do it, you say? You don’t have time not to.

Look up from your work and around your work space and take five minutes each day to make your space more enjoyable to work in. What distracts you in your work space? How can you be creative with the space you have allocated?


Denise Pass is an author, speaker and CCM worship leader from Fredericksburg, VA, where she lives with her amazing husband and 5 children. Denise is passionate about writing devotions and music that foster unshakable hope and healing in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. Her ministry umbrella, Seeing Deep in a Shallow World seeks to be a compass grounded in Scripture and a place where real problems meet real, transparent faith and needed answers in Scripture.

You can read more about Denise’s ministry, read and hear her talks, blog and original music over at www.denisepass.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll Get It Right Next Year! … Organization for Taxes

I’ll Get It Right Next Year! … Organization for Taxes

Organization for taxes

Did tax season almost make you lose your marbles … again?! Unfortunately, it’s only eight months until it will be time to start thinking about taxes again. If you find organization for taxes, it can make a stressful and overwhelming experience, easier to handle.

After struggling for years, Amy Carroll has two simple systems that have saved her sanity during tax season, and she shares one as a free download. Next year really can be better!