Posts Tagged ‘deadlines’


Keeping Your 2014 Resolutions…the Date List

calendar dates

Book Club Members: I’m into the “early ministry years” of Killing Jesus. How about you?

Warning: You might want to get favorite beverage.

Contrary to what is probably your first impression of the above title, this is not a list of celebrities you’d like to date! This is developing a to-do list based on a “date list” that you compile after you look at all of your resolution steps, deadlines and important dates.

Many of you who have “your acts together” may think the following is really rudimentary. But, what I’m learning is that many, many people struggle to overcome the non-stop ravages of something that has been plaguing them for years. So, if that’s you, read on. If you’ve got it together, how about sharing how you accomplish tasks and projects by sharing a comment with us below? Two minds are better than one, even if it turns into a “committee meeting.” 🙂

On to the Date List idea. I am always attracted to innovative, attractive planners and planning systems with cool graphics. Unfortunately, these don’t seem to work for me. I don’t even want to think about how much money and time I’ve wasted on such stuff. What started working for me was the back of a spiral notebook and a pen/pencil. Yep, that’s what worked. Now, I use a Word document. Yes, just one. Why the Word document? Because it’s “green”, cheap, my laptop has a delete key that gets used more than I care to admit, and I can cross things off and color-code with the click of a mere button.

While in grad school I was juggling a lot of responsibilities: schoolwork in a 21st century college setting (I felt like I got my bachelor’s in the stegosaurus era.) 3 hour classes at the end of the day when most of us middle-aged people are trying to put our feet up and trying very hard not to think actively, work in a very active graduate assistant’s position, mothering duties, husband-wife time, housekeeping, car maintenance, home improvement projects, and helping my daughter plan her wedding. Sometimes I was also balancing trying to get in 150 hours of counseling in 16 weeks–another requirement for the master’s degree. Did I do all of these things perfectly? No! But, I accomplished a lot and realized I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else. If they look perfect, it’s an illusion.

I found myself completely lost with all the deadlines circulating in my head because of all of this. So, at the back of one of my spiral notebooks used for class notes I started writing down all the deadlines based on the project/role/task in question. I didn’t worry about whether they were in chronological order–I just wrote them all down from calendars, to-do lists, backwards planning and syllabi. Then, I put them in chronological order. From there I created a to-do list for each day. The tasks for the first date on my list go on the to-do list first, even if my backwards planning has managed to miss a step or two. The 2nd date’s tasks go next on the list until I get to 16 items. (More about my to-do list next week). I keep adding tasks on my daily to-do list until I get to 16 items. Why 16? Read next Wednesday’s post!

While in grad school, I would compile a date list for an entire semester–it just seemed like a good “cutoff.” Now I do it about a month ahead, but continually. In other words today I will add items on the date list for 2/10/2014. I keep my date list right below my to-do list in my Word document, so that I can make sure that the most urgent deadlines are always on the same screen with my to-do list.

So, let’s see what a portion of my date list might have looked like in 2011:

    • 1/9 Take out trash
    • 1/9 Work from 1 to 5 pm
    • 1/9 Read Ch. 2 of Culture book
    • 1/9 Meet with site supervisor at 6 pm
    • 1/9 Counsel client at 7 pm
    • 1/9 Pick up youngest from church youth meeting
    • 1/10 Work from 8 am to 12 noon
    • 1/10 Class from 6 to 9 pm
    • 1/10 Read Ch. 3 of Theory book
    • 1/10 Pick out a research topic for culture class
    • 1/10 Bring trash can inside
    • 1/10 Meet daughter to select wedding invitations
    • 1/10 Take daughter to dinner


Get the idea? Now, I have to be honest. I’ve been doing this for so long now, that my date list is no longer this specific. Now, it would probably just say, “Work…Trash…Ch. 3 Culture” next to a particular date. But, I put enough there to jog my very faulty memory. One of the common date list items now is “Post,” meaning that I need to have a post fully written, edited, published and promoted by that particular day. Anything that I do on a daily basis like exercising, doing dishes, cleaning, and doing laundry is not on the date list…only items that have a specific deadline.

What’s the beauty of this system? It forces me to deal with the highest priorities and deadlines first and it forces me to think about all the tiny steps and tasks that must be done to meet those deadlines. 

Would this list work for a planner or smart phone app? Absolutely. So, if you like your planner or app, use it! I’m not insisting you do this my way–this is what works for me.

The best part? If you create a date list, you often have time for a…date night. 🙂 But, to this day, I’m still waiting on a date night with…George Clooney.

Point to Ponder: Is your brain “swimming” with deadlines? Do you just want to “throw in the towel” and give up? Stop. Breathe. Get a pen and a piece of paper. Get your favorite beverage. Sit down. Pull out all the calendars, papers, flyers, brochures and anything that has a date/deadline on it and compile your date list on a piece of paper. Take it calendar-by-calendar, project-by-project, until you have one really long list. Now, put that list in chronological order with the earliest deadlines first. It’s okay if you miss one or two and have to add in some few, in between lines. Nobody is going to see this list except you–so it can be as messy as it has to be. If necessary, re-write the list once you’re sure you didn’t miss any important dates/deadlines. Don’t forget your backwards planning dates for all of your resolutions! Good job! You’re on your way to keeping those resolutions and being the successful person you envision!

Monday’s Post: Have you ever engaged in stichomythia?

You might also like: Keeping your 2014 Resolutions…Backwards Planning, Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions…for good; and Because I Want to Be With You