To Do List Training: 3 Tips To Make The Most Of Your List

It can be overwhelming being a creative entrepreneur, especially when you have to manage your creative work around a full time job. Millennials are no stranger to the side hustle and a lot of us hope to one day turn the part time creative work into our full time jobs. And it’s no surprise! Between stagnating wages, incredible amounts of debt, and a rough job market (hey fellow 2009 grads, I’m looking at you!), we’ve needed to create the life we want in alternative ways.

Actually succeeding in these endeavors takesa a lot of hard work, determination, and, most importantly showing up and getting the work done. And that work needs to get done between all of our other obligations and during the times in our day when we’re at our most exhausted. That’s why lists are so important and can be the make-or-break difference in how your side hustle pans out.

I’m a list maker because I understand this struggle. This struggle is my struggle. Time management is hard and there are so many things I both have to and want to get done in any given day. My lists help me focus in and concentrate on the work that definitely needs to happen and pre-planning that list a week ahead of time is immensely helpful.

Create A To Do List Routine & Do Your Best To Stick To It

During your first few weeks of list-making, you’ll probably have moments where you completely forget your to do list exists. You might even have moments where you’re so stuck on auto-pilot for your usual routine that you forget about the new habits you’re trying to cultivate. But that’s OK!

Don’t give up on a routine just because it takes some time to make it a habit. I’ve definitely suffered from that in the past. I would think, “Well, I’ve messed it up so there’s no use continuing to try to implement it.” But instead, what you really need to do, is buckle down and keep following your new routine. Miss a day? Miss a few? Miss a week? Hop back on and keep trying! Eventually it will become so much a part of your day that it will become second nature and you’ll be way less likely to forget to check in with your list. You’ll even start to get antsy if you know you haven’t checked your list yet!

Figure out what works for your lifestyle and the other routines you’ve already established. I like to spend both the last and first parts of my day reviewing my lists. In the evening, I review everything I got done and then move anything that still needs to be done to the next day. In the morning, I review my list, make any changes based on my inbox or anything else that may have come up, and begin working my way through.

Choose The Format That’s Perfect For You

Are you a pencil and paper person? An iPhone person? A planner person? Figure out what format you’re most likely to return to again and again and stick with that.

While I always have my phone on me, I find that it’s just not a great tool for me when it comes to my to do lists. I forget to check it and I possess the unique ability to ignore any kind of alert set on my phone. Oh, what’s that, a noise accompanied by a message full of exclamation points? That can totally wait until I finish binge watching this season of The Office. Again.

But when it’s a list in my planner, the thing I look at every single day at work and in my home studio, I know that I mean business. The act of physically writing something down also helps me remember that I felt it was important enough to add to my to do list, so I should probably get it done.

My preferred to do list keeper is a nice compromise between a fully customized bullet journal and a fancy planner that needs to be repurchased each year: (an A5 binder). I cannot tell you enough how much I love these things. It comes with monthly and weekly sheet, and then you can buy any other inserts you need that will help you stay organized. The best part about an A5 binder is that you can buy the sheets from anywhere because it’s a standard planner size. I also like to remove pages as months go by to keep my binder slim since it travels with me everywhere I go.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Revise And Try Again

It’s taken me a few tries to figure out what really works best for me and my to do list. I tried apps in my phone but, as I said above, this is pretty much my relationship with alerts on my phone:

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I tried bullet journaling, which, to be honest I’m into. There’s nothing I like more than spending an hour or two drawing grids and lining things up. But the reality is, those two hours of drawing grids weren’t a great use of my time. If it works for you and you find some kind of zen place that allows you to dream up all sorts of brilliant ideas, more power to you! But I have plenty of creative projects on my plate and really don’t need another one just to keep me organized.

When I finally got my A5 planner in my hands it was like a breath of fresh air. I knew this was going to work for me. I’m still working on which sheets are the most productive for me—for instance, I thought a daily plus a weekly view was what I needed, but it turns out that I focus most on my daily sheets and pretty much ignore my weekly ones—but it’s definitely helped me be more organized about what needs to happen in my life each day.

Let me know what kind of to do list system works for you in the comments and stay tuned for next week’s post! I’ll be sharing a few to do lists from other entrepreneurs so you can see how they stay organized!

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