Q&A Wednesday: how to keep personal vs. professional to-do’s

Reader Hala Naseeb posed this question on our facebook page:

Do you recommed keeping a separate planner for each of work and personal life?

It’s a good question and at first blush keeping separate planners would seem like a logical and conscientious thing to do. But in reality, it adds a degree of complexity that isn’t necessary. It is much better to have one, central spot for keeping track of your tasks.

No matter how you end up organizing list, be sure you are clear on the distinction between a brain dump list and a to-do lists. A capture list is long. But a to-do list should only have 3 top priority tasks + no more than 8-10 tasks per day. Too many and having a list will actually decrease your productivity as your brain can quickly become overloaded & paralyzed.

How to Organize a List

We recommend keeping one notebook as your designated spot for capturing all of those tasks floating around your head (the brain dump). If you have multiple domains to manage, like professional demands and general household management tasks, rather than keeping one, big run-on list, create sections in your notebook.

Here’s Alison Lord, one of the amazing women I interviewed for our book Pretty Neat with a quick tip on this very thing:

My Approach

I personally organize my capture list in a notebook and group my running lists by the different roles I play. I’ve got six that I juggle: Awesome Mom, Wife of Gar’s Dreams, Chief Dreamer (new product/content creator) at Buttoned Up, Financial Wizard, Successful Entrepreneur, and Athlete. I divide my notebook pages into six sections and put a role title at the top of each one. Then I keep running lists in each of the areas.

Every Sunday evening, I sit down and take those running lists and pick 3-5 important tasks to focus on each day in the coming week. Then I turn those to-do’s into appointments and keep track of them on my weekly strategy itinerary. On that list, I do separate out work vs personal, with work at the top of the day and personal at the bottom.

One to-do list for both work and home = one less thing to remember & organize. And that’s always a good thing!

Do you organize your tasks by category? If so – what kind of categories? We’d love to hear!