17
Jan

Keeping Your 2014 Resolutions: Color-Coded To-Do List

to-do list

Book Club Members: I am up to Passover Week in Killing JesusI am finding the politics of Jesus’ time very, very interesting. How about you?

Warning: You might want to get a beverage first.

I am doing a small series on how to increase your chances of keeping your 2014 New Year’s resolutions. Most of us generally want to improve each year, but we often fail because we fail to plan. Today I discuss another way that I keep myself on track with the changes I want to make each year. It’s my color-coded to-do list:

1. I create a simple list at the top of my “Date List” that only includes 16 items each day in a Word document. Why 16? Because you have a better chance of keeping your resolutions if you are well rested. Many research studies indicate that you need 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. As we age, some of us can get away with 5 – 6 hours of sleep. If that is your situation, then you can add 1 – 3 more items to your to do list. That leaves you 16 hours a day to work, to do household chores, to study, to run errands and to improve your life.

2. I write down things as I think of them for what I want to accomplish that day. This includes daily items, such as reading my Bible and washing the dishes (They never leave the list even if I get them done every day!). It includes appointments and things that must take place that day such as: “Go to XYZ appointment” and “Take out the trash”. It includes items from my date list which now should have not only appointments on there, but also the deadline dates for the steps in my improvement projects. When I hit 16, I stop adding items.

3. Then, I look at the 16 items and find the 5 most important things for me to do that day. For instance, appointments are probably going to be red (can’t do them any other day!). I simply highlight those 5 items and click on the font color button and make them all red.

4. Then, I look at the remaining 11 items and decide which ones are the next most important to get done. These usually include my daily items, such as exercise, getting the mail, and doing laundry. I pick the 5 most important and highlight them and make their font color yellow. (Think about traffic lights!)

5. The remaining 6 items become green in font color.

6. I attack the red items first until all of them are accomplished.

7. Once all the red items are done, I attack the yellow items until all of them are done. (I at least make progress on all of them, giving each one at least 10 minutes of my time.)

8. If I am fortunate enough to get all of the yellow items done, then I start attacking the green items. Notice I said, “If”! There are lots of days when I don’t get all the yellow items done and thus, the green items never even make it to my attention!

9. I use the strikeout button to cross off the things I’ve done each day. This makes me feel accomplished, even if the only thing I accomplished was cleaning out my belly button lint. (You can’t let that stuff build up…it might attack you in the middle of the night when you least expect it.)

10. At the end of each day, I highlight everything on the list and “unstrike” them by clicking on the strikeout button again. Then, I highlight them again and turn the font color black.

11. Now, I delete any items that were accomplished and don’t need to be done ever again (or at least not the next day!). Depending on how many items are still left, I add on items for tomorrow based from my date list and any other new commitments that may have cropped up during the day until I get to the magical 16. Then, I re-code them red, yellow and green as in Steps 5-7 above.

What I have learned from using this system is that the yellow items eventually become red and the green items become yellow. Since I’m pretty good at getting the red items done every day and some of the yellow items every day, most things get accomplished eventually and amazingly, on time!

There are good days and bad days. Why? Because sometimes life intervenes and crises arise. For instance, right now a family situation has cropped up that requires a lot of my attention. But, I’m still getting at least a few of the red items done every day and the family’s agenda has temporarily become my agenda, meaning that the most important things are being done (taking care of my family)–my agenda has just become mostly yellow and green for right now.

Also, some days I lack motivation and just need a break from the to-do list, so I often look at my to-do list on these days and don’t see a lot accomplished. But, resting is important, because if I don’t take care of myself, I’ll be in a hospital or dead and then my agenda really won’t get accomplished. I do have days where I’m just plain lazy, so this past year I did even more with that to-do list to combat my procrastination tendencies:

1. Since I feel accomplished crossing off things on my list, I estimate how many minutes it will take me to get each item done. I put that number next to the item.

2. When I’m lazy, I find the red item taking the least amount of time and do it first. Then I take the red item with the next least amount of time estimated and do it next. That way I can pretty quickly cross off several items within an hour or two.

3. The increasing number of items crossed off motivates me to get those yellow items done next. By the end of the day, that “lazy day” turned into a pretty productive day!

Do you have to do this exactly as I have described above? No. Do what works for you! But, get busy and try some system and see if you can’t keep those resolutions better in 2014! Even if you fail and your system didn’t work, you at least tried and learned that you need to try a different system and that, my dear reader, is progress and improvement.

Point to Ponder: Try the system above if you’ve never done it. If you aren’t a computer whiz, then just use a notebook to make your to-do list and use highlighters to color-code it. You can also use “A”, “B”, and “C” to order your priorities for the day. Or, “R” for red; “Y” for yellow; and “G” for green. The point is to get started today…somehow…some way. Do it! No more procrastination! Then, give yourself a small reward for being so good!

Friday’s Post: Keeping Your 2014 Resolutions: Blissful Sleep!

You might also like: Keeping Your 2014 Resolutions: the Date List and Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions: Backwards Planning

This entry was posted on Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 10:20 am and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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