For a messy person like me, lists and planners are indispensable tools to keep everything under control. Although it sometimes feels like I’m spending more time organizing lists than doing things, I realized that the time it takes to make the list, it is recovered with efficiency’s increase.
Since I launched myself into the world of Freelancing, keeping everything in balance has become more complex and the lists have become very important, to be organized among different customers, deadlines, appointments, deliveries, and personal life.
Dominique Loreau has even written a book on the art of lists, to reduce chaos in our lives and grow with more awareness.
It is no coincidence that one of the first things you learn in school is to write homework in the school diary which then – not even to say it – becomes the homework to-do lists, perhaps enriched by other appointments such as gym lessons, music or other extracurricular activities.
Not only that, in the journal, we often write down our favorite music, the movies that excited us, the ones we hated, the places we visited, the medical visits and all those activities that enrich our lives.
The advantages of lists
Making lists undoubtedly has a whole range of advantages. In fact, it allows you to:
- Identify priorities: By writing to-dos, you can identify the most important things to do and secondary ones. In this way, you can share the workload on different days and not feel oppressed.
- Simplify things to do: with everything you have to do, creative ways to simplify procedures often come to mind. For example, by threading two commissions into one exit because the places are on the same route.
- Organizing the timing: when I have many things to do, I usually go by priority, but if there is something that takes me very little time, I do it immediately, because the gratification I receive from completing a task helps me to cope better the one that has the highest priority and complexity.
- Reducing distractions: having a to-do list in front of your eyes helps you concentrate your mind and not get distracted by less important things.
- Reduce anxiety: This is a somewhat counterintuitive thing. Especially for those as anxious as I am. Writing a to-do list can increase anxiety because: “OMG! I WON’T BE ABLE TO DO EVERYTHING!” In fact, the list compensates for the thought “and now what I am supposed to do?” and the subsequent anxiety of delay caused by forgetting something.
Create lists and planners
Learning to make different lists, simplifying and optimizing them, you can also reduce anxiety. For example, my first list is what I call ” the book of dreams” where there are all the things to do (including eating healthy, playing sports and running, in fact, it is the dream list), then this list is skimmed:
- in very important things (work things, bureaucratic, organizational things like spending when the fridge is empty, getting tickets to a train);
- to be done in several days (e.g. a collection of invitations);
- what I would like to do (write, draw);
- desires (shopping in comic-stores);
- hopes (like running);
- Increase self-esteem: Lists have the effect of increasing self-esteem because at the end of the day one looks at the things he has done. I can’t always finish everything I put on the list, but this helps me to write lists better and set myself more reasonable goals.
List and planner tools:
The agenda is the main tool for organizing on a daily basis.
Here I write all the things to do during the day (e.g. write the post for the Blog of Petit Design) and then start the things done.
I admit that if I have a to-do list, and I have not assigned something to the specific day, I write on the page of the day the things are done, after I have done them. It happens especially when I work on projects that take me several days, or if there are tasks that come to me and that I solve in the same day, then I sign them in order to remember how the day passed.
We have already seen the 16-month agendas (September 2019-December 2020) that came out before the summer. Some days ago I have been in the book shop again, and I’ve seen that the annual agendas are coming and I’m about to start casting for the next agenda. Are you interested? Do you think I should share this choice with you, like in Instagram stories? Let me know!
I really admire those who can carry on the bullet journal, because I think it is a very useful tool for personal growth and the increase of mindfulness. Unfortunately, my notebooks are a confusing cluster of ideas, notes, drawings and post-it notes that I would never dream of comparing to the bullet journal.
I love planners. During the organization of my wedding, marking things to do on the planner gave me a lot of satisfaction and the feeling that everything was always under control. More than agendas, planners are the real anti-anxiety tool. Of course, they must be flexible, otherwise at the first unexpected anxiety skyrockets. Here, you have to interpret the planners by putting in front of an “If there are no unforeseen, I should do…”
During this time I am organizing a Petit Design social media planner, which can only be efficient when I follow one.
For a time, however, I used a planner to organize meals, especially lunch, but then I introduced the method of preparation and I no longer used it. However, I think that with the change of season I could go back to using it to insert recipes with seasonal ingredients and vary the menu a little more.
When we were in Milan, Francesco and I had a calendar hanging on the kitchen’s wall, on which we marked the appointments: trips outside Milan, friends who came to visit us, appointments and meetings to go to. It was nice to watch him in the morning while we had breakfast, so we remembered things done and we knew more or less the things we would do. A lot of times there has things that we had forgotten.
In 2019 we didn’t buy a calendar because we moved to Gran Canaria, then to Barcelona and then to Rome, so we tried to minimize the things to carry around, relying on a shared Google calendar, but it’s not the same thing.
Trello is a recent discovery, made on the advice of a series of YouTubers working with social media, and in particular one of my mentors Kimberly Ann Jimenez (look at her YouTube channel). In one of her newsletters, Kimberly told us that the world was obsessed with Trello and on Youtube explained how it works (I’ll put the video on it)
If you don’t speak English well, but you are curious I leave you the video in which Alice and Chiara-Machedavero talk about apps to manage time.
The thing I love about Trello is that it allows me to create lists in lists, save them and use them in multiple projects.
For example, when I write an article for the blog:
- I write the article in Italian;
- I translate it into English;
- I search (or create) images;
- I upload the article (and its translation) to WordPress;
- (or I schedule publication when I’m efficient);
- I prepare images for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest;
- I write posts with the various hashtags and program them on Hootsuite which is the tool I use for the blog.
Trello helps me import this check-list on every blog article so at a glance I know where I got to or if I forgot something.
The same when it comes to designing a product or collection and uploading it to the Petit Design shop or Etsy. Of course, the production of the products has its own check-list.
Another app similar to Trello is Asana that I adore and find it graphically more beautiful than Trello, but it does not allow me to import check-lists (or maybe I did not understand how to do it) and every time I had to write one check-lists risking to forget a few steps. That’s why I prefer to use Trello because it was more comfortable with what I do.
Of course, since neither Trello nor Asana pays me, and considering that there are other tools (like Google Tasks), I invite you to experiment and find the one that suits your lifestyle the most because it is always convenient to have the lists at hand on your mobile phone.
If you love paper, using one of the patterns I made with tiles, I have created a very simple weekly planner, which you can download for free from the site, print at home to have the week under control.
Bye for now!