To-do lists are a huge part of our productivity strategy at Lifehacker, but everyone gets behind once in a while. When you do, finance blog The Simple Dollar recommends taking a day to reassess everything that's fallen by the wayside.
Photo by Dominique.
An important part of having a good to-do list strategy is taking some time every week to take stock and reorganise your to-do list based on the goals you've achieved. We've discussed the "mind sweep" method once or twice — that is, dumping all your current life concerns and tasks in one physical location — but if your to-do list starts to look so disorganised that you can't catch up on your current schedule, you may need to take more time to reassess:
I suggest having a good chunk of time set aside before even starting. This is a perfect activity for a winter weekend day where you don't have much going on.
The first step is to simply sit down and do a complete brain dump. Just sit there and let your mind wander through everything in your life and write down everything that concerns you, that you're trying to remember, that you're working through. All of that stuff that pops up and distracts you needs to go down on paper (or into your text editor). Just keep going with it until you feel like there's nothing else.
Get it all out of your head and onto paper. Don't worry about order. Don't worry about filtering anything. Don't worry about duplicating stuff. Just get it all out.
After you've essentially recreated your master to-do list, you can more easily follow through on those tasks you'd lost track of. You may not be back on track tomorrow, but the "mega" mind sweep can help you gradually get back on track. Hit the link to read The Simple Dollar's guide to the entire process — both doing the brain dump and following up on all your tasks efficiently — and let us know your best strategies for catching up on lost tasks in the comments.
Out With the Old, In With the New: Do a Mind Sweep [The Simple Dollar]