Until it becomes possible to stick a USB cable in your brain and download information, to do lists are the best way to keep track of your life.
I fell in love with them at a quite young age as a way of handling my rampant anxiety. Without some kind of external system, I cannot function properly - I need schedules, lists, plans and reminders or I go insane.
Off loading as much of what is in my brain as possible is crucial to me. It's what enables me to spend most of my time learning - I am studying four foreign languages, read a lot, listen to hours of podcasts on everything from nutrition to history each day, blog, and take exercise classes. Oh and then there's the small matter of formal education which sometimes needs tending to. 'Busy' might be a redundant concept to me, but I have no conception of boredom.
Learning to make to do lists which work was the single thing which changed me from a disorganised mess with no control over my life to someone who is happy with their productivity. In some ways, this is all about perception. Unless I have a visual record of what I have done in a day, it might as well have not happened.
Even when on holiday, I have plenty of tasks to balance because I 1) am a total perfectionist and 2) have far too many interests. I wrote about my daily planning systems a few months ago but I have since updated them and switched to using an adapted version of a bullet journal. Here's how I use it.
For the first part of this summer, my daily plans looked like this:
Each day, I wrote a small checklist in my journal. This was too crude and lacked the capacity to plan ahead, which is key to me getting things done.
Now I have reworked the system to handle daily habits, ongoing projects, events and one-off tasks by using bullet journal techniques.
It's the best way of making to do lists that I have found to date. During college, I kept track of most tasks online. Maybe that's more efficient in some ways, yet there's something pleasant about the tactile experience of planning on paper. No graph or spreadsheet can beat physically ticking off things, even if it takes longer to organise.
The first spread is a key (which I mislabelled because I am a genius) and an index. The index is an amazing idea which I would never have thought of.
Under my bed, I have dozens of notebooks and no clue what they contain. This has always been frustrating. I have countless pages of useful stuff - notes from TED talks, podcasts, documentaries, films, classes, books and conversations, passwords, ideas for pieces of writing, and so on- which are near impossible to find. The index in my bullet journal means I can empty my head and not loose the contents.
The second spread is a summary of the month and some goals for it, as an overview. After writing this, I prepare the pages for each day of the month and add any key dates/events to them.
To make the goals tangible, I schedule them in throughout the month ahead. Writing a list of goals alone is useless, hence why I make them specific, quantifiable and time-bound.
This is a typical six-day spread. I still use Habitica for daily habits although my list of dailies is now much shorter than before. Other than that, everything goes into my bullet journal. If I'm not so great at getting a habit done each day, it goes in both (like meditation.)
Here's a summary of how I use it: squares for tasks and circles for events. When something is completed, the square gets coloured in. If it's cancelled, a line goes through it and if I move it to another date, an arrow is drawn in the square.
How do you like to plan your days? Let me know in the comments!