I’m certainly the type of person who benefits mentally from creating structure in uncertain times. I find the act of organizing my spaces, schedule, money, what-have-you makes me feel like I have more control of a situation than I actually do. It sets me up to adopt good habits and routines.
I’m the type of person who needs to create a list or I can’t stop thinking about whatever it is that’s on my mind. If I start my work day just responding to whatever is in front of me…emails, IMs, Slack chats, etc., then I get to lunch not having anything to show for my time and feeling panicked that I’m behind, without really knowing what I’m behind on exactly. Cue instant stress.
I’m also the type of person who absolutely LOVES crossing things off my to do list. I get great joy in adding that checkmark or crossing something off the list with a swipe of a pen. That’s why I’ve found that having a paper and pen to do list and tracker is immensely helpful for me.
Today I’ll share the weekly task list and daily planner pages that I’ve started using. I first searched online for planner books and printable pages that others offered, and I didn’t find anything that I loved. After trying a few free printable pages, I decided to create my own. I share them here today in case they are helpful for you as well. They are Word files so you can customize them to your needs.
Weekly Task List
This weekly task list purposefully has me focuses on no more than three major tasks or activities per week. I keep it short so I stay focused, and I make sure it covers the items that MUST get done this week without fail.
Then I list all of my projects and the activities associated with each. For me, I need to track my to dos, people I need to follow-up with because they don’t reliably get back to me (grr!!), and meetings I need to prepare for (whether that’s research I need to do, agendas to prep, or folks I need to connect with in advance). Luckily, I only have three major work projects right now, and then I use the fourth section to tracker personal / household activities.
Typically, I take less than 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to create my weekly list, which I do while reviewing last week’s list, looking ahead to the next week’s electronic calendar, and reviewing project schedules.
Daily Planner Page
I’ve been using some version of a weekly tracker for a while, and then I’d start each morning listing on a sticky note the 3-5 things I want to accomplish for the day. That worked just fine, but I wanted to try something a bit more structured.
In this daily planner page, I list the three must dos I have to accomplish for the day. These are more focused than the three major focuses listed on the weekly task list. The weekly task list may include the need to submit X deliverable; whereas, the daily task list may say to review section 1 of X deliverable.
I then list any major activities coming up for the day in the calendar section. I’m NOT spending time repeating what’s in my electronic calendar really. I’m just painting the landscape for the day and making sure I’m aware of what’s coming up. You could also list meals you’re planning in this section, but that’s not something I’m tracking.
Then, there’s a section to include any nice-to-have to dos that I’ll get to if I have time available. Under this list is a spot to note any exercise accomplished for the day and my water intake. The notes section at the bottom is to capture any quick items I may need to record based on meetings I’m in, like future to do items or phone numbers.
If you use different printables or have another approach, let me know! I love hearing about how others manage their time and tasks.