Stop Digging for Bones – Keep These 10 Lists

by Jeff Doubek, Day-Timer Spokesperson

Sometimes life can make you feel like a dog that lost its bone. Digging and digging holes in the yard, hoping to remember where it buried that prized object of desire.

More than you realize, you spend a lot of your time digging… for information. And, it’s not just for the obscure, but for the everyday information that guides our life as well. The dog bones.

The information you carry with you on a daily basis keeps your life in balance. My planner, (desk-size, 2-page per day, distressed leather) is a major resource for my life. Inside, I keep special sections devoted to 10 key lists of information. These lists you will find below can play a prominent role in your personal effectiveness.

So, sit down, knock these out, and place them in your own daily planner. You’ll enjoy increased productivity every time you consult these lists, saving you time and energy.

  1. Tasks: This is the working list of all your to-dos. I prefer to keep two task lists – one each for home and home – while others prefer to keep one big list. The main idea to remember is that you you break down your tasks into actionable activities. Always begin them with a strong verb or they will not give you proper direction. Your task list is what drives your day. It’s a living breathing entity and should be updated weekly, if not daily.
  2. Goals: You’d be surprised how few people actually keep their goals written out and easily accessible. I categorize my goals by work, home, family, financial, and self, and I follow the SMART goal method (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). The difference between you and everyone else on the elevator is that each day you truly know where you’re going.
  3. Values: We all have things we value in life, but we don’t always take the time to recognize them, and integrate them into our planning. You can learn more on this in our upcoming Time Tips video. Create a list of the aspects of life that mean the most to you. Living with integrity, reducing waste, and having healthy family relationships are all examples.
  4. Daily Routine: I keep a list of daily routine activities. It includes: make bag lunch, check daily schedule, drink water, stretch, review daily notes, check RSS feeds, clean desk, meditate, journal, workout, call kids, etc. It’s a daily list of the activities that bring quality to my life. This list allows me to leave repeating activities off my to-do list. To some this might seem a bit rudimentary, but I promise you’ll appreciate the mere presence of these reminders. It helps you live a more centered life.
  5. Birthday gifts (for others): How many times have you come upon something great to give a friend or loved one? How often do you forget said item when their birthday rolls around? It’s a devastating feeling because there is nothing better than a thoughtful gift. You waste time finding a new gift and cause undue stress to yourself. Keep a list of items and people that you can add to as you feel the inspiration.
  6. Debts/Loans: This serves not only as a reminder of when payments are due, but it also as motivation toward paying debts off. Debt is easy to ignore, but it can quickly become a monster in your closet. By listing debt amounts, minimum payment due, and payment dates you’ll reduce this threat, the stress caused, and keep your financial goals in your daily picture.
  7. Someday: Start a list of activities you’d like to accomplish one day, maybe. This can be a wish list, an “if I had time” list, and even a “rainy day” list. It’s an entirely liberating feeling to get these ideas out of your head. Give them the respect they deserve before they float away. Of course, your mission is to find ways each month to slip these someday tasks into your life.
  8. Travel pack list: This is a huge time saver for anyone who travels even occasionally. Having a list of key items you pack on a typical trip will allow you to focus on the more important details, such as the reason you’re traveling to begin with. Your list should be basic, including items such as casual shoes, toothbrush, phone charger, identification, wallet, plane tickets, itinerary, etc. Master the obvious on this one, it’s worth the reminder.
  9. Main phone numbers: If you’ve ever lost or been separated from your mobile phone you’ll understand why this is important. Most individuals rely completely on the process of choosing a name instead of dialing a number. Make a list of the key numbers in your life that may be important to get through an average day, and an emergency.
  10.  Key info: Despite the numerous times I’ve had to recall them, I can’t remember my bank account or my kids’ social security numbers. I simply don’t have room for this information in my head. But, because I don’t want to waste time digging for the data, I keep a list. Note: Because identity theft is a serious and realistic concern you’ll have to assess this risk on your own. Personally, I have a secret system of altering this info that I feel comfortable and secure with.

Note: all my lists are updated and printed by computer so if I lose my planner, I have back-ups of everything. You are welcome to choose where you wish to keep them, but make sure they are easily accessible, wherever you are.

So what do you think? Do you keep a list that isn’t on my list? Please comment, and tell me what lists keep you out of the backyard, and on focus in your life.

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2 thoughts on “Stop Digging for Bones – Keep These 10 Lists

  1. I just wanted to comment that I keep a wish list. This is selfish I know but I how less am I supposed to remember what i’d like for my birthday, Father’s day or Christmas. When browsing websites such as I might see something I’d like. Someone from my family always asks what I’d like and I always know what to tell them. I just goto my list and say anything here would be nice. Just in case I always keep my current clothes, shoe sizes gift card ides on the list. You just have to remember to take things off after you’ve received a gift from the list. Some websites usually have a wish list but it’s alot easier to keep all the things you would like to receive in one simple place like the notepad of the computer. Makes it convenient to email the list to all my relatives too.

  2. Hi Jeff – I keep some of the same lists you do, but I also keep a list of books I might want to read and movies I might want to rent. Usually, it’s after I’ve read a review on the book or movie, or maybe it’s when someone recommends it to me. By adding it to my list, I have an easier time making a selection.

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