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Creating An Organized To-Do System

As Published In Smead Organomics
Creating An Organized To-Do System

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Creating (and following) an organized to-do system is the best way to make sure daily tasks are getting completed according to schedule. With the right system, you’ll never accumulate more than a week’s worth of paper at any time, and will have no reason to miss a deadline or pay a bill late. You can stop worrying, “When will I get it all done?” — because you know that any to-dos will be taken care of during your next regular admin period.

Get Organized For Action

You must keep paper moving through your system, instead of allowing it to stagnate on your desk. You do this by “verbing” each new to-do that enters  your life. Start with the nearest pile — ask what you need to do with each item, then create folders for those answers. Set these files up in a rack — so all to-dos have a set place to live until you can tackle them. You’ll come up with categories like:

  • “to pay”
  • “to contact”
  • “to enter in computer”
  • “to file”
  • “to buy”
  • “to research”
  •  “to reconcile”
  • “to read”
  • “to give to _________”

Revamp Your Schedule

Once your to-dos are in one spot, you need to do them. Don’t wait until you have time — make time. Schedule a regular weekly appointment with yourself (maybe an hour once or twice a week) — blocking off that slot as an “admin period.” Your goal is to go through each folder in order, trying to complete every item inside. If you can’t, put that to-do back in the folder and tackle it later. And if you finish action #1 (paying a bill), but then have another step to take with that paper (perhaps calling to correct a billing error) — move it to the appropriate folder, and deal with task #2 during your next admin period.

Consolidate Your Efforts

Why would you worry about working through one folder before moving to the next? Take a “mass production” tip from Henry Ford — you’ll accomplish more in less time when you complete each activity in sequence. That means paying all of your bills at once, then making all of your calls, then doing all of your filing — as opposed to bopping back and forth between different tasks.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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