Have you ever crossed out an item on a to-do list and felt a rush of satisfaction? Maybe it’s depressing, but I experience these types of moments daily.
This past summer when I was backpacking in Europe, I challenged myself to live more spontaneously and abandon my desire to always have a plan. I learned to be more in the moment and to go with the flow. It was refreshing, exhilarating and completely foreign. By the time I got back to Oregon, I felt like I was a new, better version of myself.
Funny how quickly things change, isn’t it? When I began my internship this fall, I knew this carefree mentality wouldn’t survive in agency life. By day two, I was scribbling to-do lists and feeling overwhelmed with the need to plan ahead. I even remember Tweeting, “Back on that to-do list life.”
Well, it’s week six of my internship and my final term in college and I think I’ve finally figured out how to master the to-do list.
Plan ahead: Towards the end of each workday, I write the to-do list for the next day and highlight the tasks with the closest deadlines. Having this list ready to go the next morning helps me feel prepared and mentally organized for the next day.
Roll with the punches: You can plan all you want for the next day, but from what I’ve experienced, there will be changes to your list. If your supervisor asks you to help out with a quick project that’s time-sensitive, you do it. Unfortunately, you might not get to cross out each item on your list that you wanted to, but as long as you meet your deadlines, you shouldn’t worry. Or at least I try to remind myself of that.
Ok, so maybe I haven’t “mastered” the to-do list, but I do feel like I’m getting better at it. And, surprisingly, the addition of my new “go with the flow” attitude has helped tremendously.
Do you have any other tips for staying organized?