Day 3197 – New Method To Manage My Millions Of To Dos – Productivity Tips

I have lists upon lists of things to do. From routines for myself, to tasks to do for our business, to the myriad of tasks for my clients, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed with it all.

I’ve used the same printed to do list for years, which lists my week and all of my major to dos. But I’ve started a new method of keeping track each day that’s been working really well for me – yellow legal pads.

I currently have a stack of six, one for each weekday and one for the weekend. I’ve noticed a big shift in quality of work when I write my to do list the day before. I had been creating 2 days in advance, since I had 3 legal pads. But I recently purchased 3 more, which allows me to create my to do list for the next week when I finish a current day. I love that I have my to do lists written for the next week. I can easily add a task where it’s needed. I typically leave my client spaces empty, except for definite to dos.

I use Asana to keep track of all of my tasks for each client, our business, and my personal projects. I can’t say enough good things about Asana. It has changed my life. When I am finishing out my day and adjusting tomorrow’s to do list, I look through my Asana for each client and for us for tasks.

I’m a big believer in the pen to paper method for things. It really does make a difference in retention and it just feels good to write things down.

This method of writing out all my to dos like this will likely change as time goes on, but that’s the beauty of it – it CAN change. You aren’t stuck with one method of keeping track of your endless to dos. One thing will work today, and it might be a totally different thing in a month or a year.

How do you keep track of your to dos?


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Day 2590 – How My To Do List Horribly Fails Living A Minimalist Life

I absolutely love living a minimalist life. I love that it takes minutes to clean our home. I love that everything has it’s spot, thus making cleaning super easy. I love the little tweaks we’ve made to make things even smoother and easier (praise the Lord for not matching Bret’s socks anymore!)

But I am utterly, completely and wholly failing in the area of to do lists.

I have 4, plus little guys here and there. Yes, FOUR to do lists! But I am making strides to change this and narrow things down. I do need 3, 1 for each of my clients and 1 for myself. I was trying to use three different methods for each list. Kind of a mental thing – this method means I’m working on my stuff, this one means one client and another client. I adore Asana. I was introduced to it by one of my clients. It works exactly like my mind works. Creating lists, the ability to add attachments, sub tasks and due dates…be still my heart! So, there was a part of me that thought, awww man, I really wish there was something I could do for all of my lists! And then it hit me, oh, yea, duh, I can create three Asana accounts! Which I did. And it has been a really great move. I think there is a part of me that will also need a physical to do list. There is nothing in the OCD world of office nerds that rivals the feeling of finishing a task and crossing it off with a pen. Though, the little flying unicorns that soar across my screen when I check off a task in Asana isn’t too far off.

I think the main point of failure is letting things back up. If I would just put my to do’s and ideas right into Asana and not on a post it note, I would be a much happier person and have a much more minimalist to do list.

What about you? Have you tamed the to do list beast? What’s your method?

(Note, this particular set of to do lists did not include ANY of my clients work! Just prepping for our cross country trip!


Day 2570 – Finally Getting Things Done

For about a year, I’ve been meaning to do a few things. Since I stopped photographing weddings, I wasn’t maintaining my Facebook page. I created new pages for new ventures (a new website, a new Facebook page, etc.) but they all were pretty much placeholders. I ended up going on lots of adventures, worked new jobs and just put them on the back burner.

This week, I feel like I finally caught up on a few things. I felt fully “back” after vacation, I typed up my notes from Essentialism and created my personal essential categories in life. I have been doing so many things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve almost completely transitioned my to do list into Asana and off of my iCloud calendar. Now, that’s just for events. Ahhh, just the sense of relief at getting these things done is amazing.

Well, today, I finally updated my blog header, description, avatar and Facebook page to reflect the new direction of the blog. I say new, but it’s been here for about a year. I even put up a post on my photography business page.

So here we are, updated blog and in some ways, updated life.

As I created the new header, I was reminded that I am in no way a graphic designer, but I love that Jenny Lake is my header. 🙂


Day 2435 – My New Secret To Productivity – Habitica!

You may remember that I’m a sucker for new productivity ideas. I shared in that post that I learned that I have finally accepted that my secret to productivity will change. What will motivate me today will most likely not motivate me in a week or next year.

I am a list person. I am a spreadsheet person. I LOVE that feeling of crossing something off the list. I love seeing progress based on records I’ve kept. I’m a huge nerd in this regard. I geek out over Pivot Tables in Excel (go look it up, trust me). Give me a chart to fill out and I’ll most likely get it done.

Or, at least, I’ll plan and plan and plan to get it done. As I’m reading Die Empty, I’m finding I’m a Mapper (planning my objectives) and a Mesher (education, doing things that challenge me, cultivating curiosity). But I’m a terrible Maker (actually doing the work). Doing all three is the goal. This goal of actually doing the work to meet my goals and use the education I’m getting has been fresh in my mind.

I also realize that I’m a big game nerd. I can spend hours a day playing Farmville (oh baby, my farm is awesome) or a Lego game (100%er right here!) I found myself thinking a few years back – “why am I so jazzed about Farmville?” (Yes, I’ve been playing for YEARS). So I read a book Zynga: From Outcast to $9 Billion Social-Game Powerhouse, hoping I would find an answer to my question. I wanted to harness this urge to craft things and get experience and level up in my life and maybe into a business.

I found a book at the library, Gamify. While on my first read/skim, I thought, well, duh, of course this is a good thing! How can I apply it? I didn’t finish the book because of that. lol, I’m very harsh on my current readings. If I’m not feeling a book, it’s gone. Which is why my Goodreads “read” shelf is filled with 4 and 5 star books. I won’t waste my time on anything less.

Yesterday, I got Gamify out of the library again. I spent time reading and thought, ok, I need to make this an actionable thing. I need a game.

A while back, my sister told me about a to do list/gamified app. I downloaded it and barely looked at it. I deleted it a few days later. I thought, I’m too busy to have ANOTHER place to track things and annoy me with the “hey Jen, here’s the million things you’re NOT doing.” But after the perfect storm above, I downloaded it again.

Friends, I am floored at how well it’s worked in the last 16 hours or so. I’ve added in habits to make (drink more water, brush my teeth before nine – if you work from home, I’m sure you can feel me on this one) and to break (I won’t play video games before 3…this is a new bad habit…I won’t pick my nails…etc). After hitting the negative sign almost 3 times in a row…within 15 minutes…and taking so much life away from my little avatar…I felt a new resolve. When I went to pick, I thought, no, don’t take the health away! It has made doing my to-dos fun. I have already done more this morning than I have in weeks…nay….months. I am excited to tackle my work day because I know I will gain points. I even wrote a chapter in my book.

Who knows how long this will keep me motivated, but I have a suspicion it might be a while. 🙂