Keeping on track

If there’s one thing that far too many of us have in common these days, it’s the simple words: “I am busy”.

At the moment I’m going to school to pursue a Masters of Library Science, I’m running a freelance editing service, I’m trying to fix up my own manuscript, I’m participating in the Speculative Fiction Critiquing Marathon on Agent Query Connect, I’m trying to keep on top of the cooking and cleaning and yard work…

My pumpkin patch is currently trying to declare its independence
My pumpkin patch is currently trying to declare its independence

And in a few days, I’ll be caring for and training our brand new puppy. (Yes, I’ll post pictures when I bring him in.)

These days, it feels like my catchphrase is “Give me one second!” as I’m scrambling to get everything done.

People are going to give you a billion tips and strategies for ways to streamline your life and make things more manageable. There are thousands of options and methods out there.

Me, though, I like keeping a list.20130731_224615

I like to consider myself a master procrastinator. If something’s making me anxious, then I’ll put off doing it until the last minute. That’s what makes a simple pen-and-paper to-do list so effective for me: usually, I don’t have to do the tasks in any particular order.

If I don’t want to do my homework, I can jump to something else on the list. I can procrastinate all I want with less intimidating tasks, and still feel like I’m being productive. Often, by the time I’ve gotten a bunch of other stuff done, I feel confident enough to tackle the scarier projects.

When the project is particularly big, I can divide it into smaller tasks, each of which I can check off when I get done with it. After all, there’s a feeling of satisfaction that comes when you cross an item off, even if it’s a small one.

If you like technology, here are some free digital to-do lists that I’ve found:

  • Subtask divides larger projects up into smaller tasks and tells you how far along you are as you check things off
  • Remember the Milk is a to-do list app that can connect to your phone and computer, and it can send you reminders via text and Skype messages
  • Astrid was an awesome program, but it has since shut down.
  • ToDo.ly — I haven’t tried this one yet… but I’m sure I’ll get around to it…
  • To Do (Tomorrow) advertises itself as a To-Do list for procrastinators. It’s Apple-based, but has options for Android as well.

Do to-do lists work for you? Why or why not? And do you have any software that you’re especially fond of for keeping productive?