Organizing Tasks for Better Productivity

I have a confession to make…I am an obsessive list maker and I have been for as long as I can remember. I’m sure that somewhere there is a list written in crayon with the “n” in Angie written backwards.  This doesn’t mean that I always knew where all of my lists were or that I remembered the grocery list before I got to the store.  However, I have learned a couple of things through the years to keep me from getting overwhelmed (well less overwhelmed).

I realized that I spent a lot of time writing my list but not getting much done. Just imagine everything that you need to do: house, garden, sewing, errands, things to buy, etc. all on one list.  Yeah that’s never getting finished.  I’ve probably already lost that one before the ink dried.  I knew that in order to be more productive I was going to have to make my to dos more manageable. 

The first step toward getting your tasks accomplished is separating them into groups/categories and writing group specific lists.  Today’s series deals with one of the most important lists…. SEWING AND MAKING!!

EXAMPLE: Sewing/Making To Do List

I designed this to do list for activities that I perform in my studio.  I keep it on my cutting table on a clip board where I can easily see what I need to do. Things like cutting fabric, sewing, machine maintenance, and anything else that happens in that room go on this list. All of my designing and computer work goes on somewhere else so there is a separate list for that.

-The list is broken down into all seven days of the week because I know that with deadlines (and procrastinating) it isn’t always possible to take a break on the weekends, and for some that is the only time they get to sit down and create.

-There are lines for ten things to do each day. I felt that wasn’t too overwhelming and you don’t have to use all ten lines. Start with the things that you have to do (tasks with deadlines) and sprinkle in the things you want to do wherever you can. I also like to break my tasks down into individual steps that are even more manageable.

For example I wouldn’t put “work on blue quilt” on the first line. This doesn’t give me a direction on where I’m at or where I’m going on this project. Instead, I would write “cut pieces for last four blue quilt blocks” on one line, “sew last four blocks for blue quilt” on the next line, “piece blue quilt blocks into top”. Then if I have other things I want to work on I would add those to that day as well. The next day I might continue with the “blue quilt” and write “sandwich blue quilt”, “quilt blue quilt”, “make binding for blue quilt”, all on different lines.

The level that things are broken down to are entirely up to you.  Figure out what works best for you, what keeps you on track,  and causes you the least amount of burn out and stress.  It’s really no fun losing your sewing/making mojo.

Be realistic with your time to avoid setting yourself up for failure.

I think we always underestimate the amount of work that “work on the blue quilt” actually is and by breaking it down into simple steps it becomes less overwhelming and more manageable. It’s reaffirming to go back and look at the list and see each of those steps that you accomplished.   

I highly recommend assigning a time value to each line so you don’t end up with a list that is impossible to finish.  I try to keep each line under one hour.  Things like quilting will take longer so it may be the only thing on my list for that day.  Just remember if you only have four hours to work on making cool stuff on Tuesday then only list three or four hours of tasks to do. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start.  Remember that there are only so many hours in the day and this isn’t the only list you have.  It is acceptable to write your lists in pencil and move unfinished tasks to another day. It’s not only about keeping what you need to do organized but also about being able to see what you’ve accomplished.

The To Do List featured in this post is available as a free download.  You can find it on my tutorials page or by clicking on the picture in this post.

I would love to hear any tips or tricks that you find helpful for getting things done.

P.S. I always put make my grocery list on my phone.  The chances of me forgetting my phone when I go the store are almost zero.  The neatly written paper list will probably still be on the kitchen counter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *