To Do lists vs. Ta Da lists

There has been quite some conversation going on in the new ‘Filo Focus’ group, and amongst other things we were talking about ‘hacks’ to keep your attention on your tasks and projects. I’m a classic case of non-DX’ed ADD (which gets A LOT better with taking omega 3-6-9 capsules… but only IF I DON’T FORGET TAKING THEM :p) so my life is based on To Do lists. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. The Post-It industry has profited a lot from my purchases over the last couple of years.

But, as I discovered many of you have experienced, I sometimes just can’t seem to start. I’ll be at home with a looong to do list but I get anxious at seeing all of those unfinished tasks (sometimes several pages, if I go all GTD and clear my hear on paper) and I just get, well, overwhelmed. At the end of the day I won’t have anything done.

At work, this happens to me too, sometimes. Luckily I have short deadlines (I work SO good under deadlines) and I get everything done just fine, but beginning, or planning my day, seems to be a struggle over and over again. I had two weeks off from work, at home with my son, and used that time to think things through before going back to work tomorrow.

So! I had to think of solutions. I started by analysing my problem. It all comes down to:

– being overwhelmed when seeing a large list of tasks, and not starting anything

– having the attention span of a mosquito

– feeling inadequate when I haven’t crossed EVERYTHING off in the evening, aka setting too high standards for myself

– loosing track of time

What have I tried the last week? Writing Ta Da lists next to my To Do lists.

Ta Da lists are a concept I use from the Flylady system. It’s a list of accomplishments. It really gets me motivated to see my Ta Da list in the evening and being happy with everything I’ve done. I still use my master To Do lists (in my A5 for work and in my Personal for, well, personal :p) but I write a task on my Ta Da list everytimes it is finished.

I started doing that at work a couple of weeks ago, on my Time Management inserts in my A5 Gillio planner: I write down what I’ve done, on what day, and what category it belongs to. That way I can see what project takes up most of my time.

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That was working out great, so I’m now making Ta Da lists in my Filofax at home as well.

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I also use a timer set to 15 minutes, because if I enter the bathroom to do some laundry, you can be sure I will discover something else that grabs my attention either on the way to the bathroom, or inside the bathroom. Like the shoe rack in the hall that could use some organisation or my ever growing stock of cosmetics that need re-arranging. The timer reminds me I was actually there for something else 😉

I can afterwards put this Ta Da list next to my master To Do list and cross off what has been done. The satisfaction of filling this little post-it is great, it encourages me not to leave it empty, and I try not to overthink: if I did it, it goes on the list. Not debating with myself over ‘is that really an accomplishment, taking out the trash?’. Yes. It goes on the list.

And I keep them in my planner for some days because I like how it reminds me I’m on track 🙂

Does anybody have other hacks to share?

I blame my mother.

Yes, mom. I blame you.

After all of this planner-madness the last couple of weeks, I started to think about the very beginning. When did the planner-addiction start? When (or why?) did I get so obsessed with paper planners, Filofaxes, to do lists and other ‘systems’?

My mom bought me my first ever Filofax when I was turning 13. The year was 1997, people, I’d almost finished my first year in highschool, and the exams in June were coming up. My birthday is in June as well, so: exams on my birthday, and not a whole lot of time to celebrate. I remember vividly: that first year, I had an exam of Latin on my birthday… Joy, oh joy.

About two weeks before my birthday, my mom picked me up from school. I don’t remember why, but we went to this stationery shop near my school. They had a very cute Filofax in Pocket size, called ‘Active’:

Active FF 1997 (thanks Steve Morton for helping me find the picture!)

I fell in love with it, and my mom got it for me. Too early, my birthday wasn’t for another two weeks, but she said: ‘This way, you can plan your exams.’

It sounded like a magical solution, a self-fulfilling prophecy that actually worked because I started filling out the papers like crazy, making a schedule and fabricating my own inserts. After this planner came another, and after that many, many, MANY more.

Today I have about 4 planners, and 1 on Adspot so I won’t count that one. One as my wallet, one for personal stuff, one for work, one for storage. I use an iPad, iPhone and iWhatnot, have spent some money on organising apps but I always, always come back to paper and pens. Like all of us, I switch out inserts, switch between sizes and uses… But I need paper. I need to write, to create, to be creative, to design and paste stickers and washi tape (for that, I blame you guys.)…

I agree with the post in the Philofaxy group on FB: there should be a FiloFanatics Anonymous group. We’d all schedule in the appointments and never miss a date, of course 😉

So mom, thanks for introducing me to the wonderful world of planners. Love you.

Hi, my name is Mella and I’m an addict.

“Hi, Mella.”

I admit it: I have an addiction. Well, who am I kidding… I have several. They cost me a lot of money and to be honest, they make me very happy.

What are they? Well, in random order: Filofaxes! Stationary! Pens! Handbags! Purses! Wallets! Make-up! Shoes! iGadgets!

Not all of these addictions have the same proportions as some of the other, but… You get the picture.

I’ve been blogging for several years now, and I decided it was time to ‘go international’ and start a blog in English so I could share all of my happy times with the rest of the world, especially with the oh so lovely people of the Philofaxy-community.

So here’s to you, and here’s to writing about my crazy adventures and quests for the perfect accessories… and happiness.

xoxo M