Getting It All Done In A Day
A common question I’m asked is, “How do you get it all done?” People always want to know how I achieve so much. Ironically, I feel I don’t do as much as I want. I will, however, try to share some of my tips. First, I’m big on lists. In fact, everyone in my life gets a list. My husband, my nanny, Anais, who helps me out with JICNY, and Alan, my partner in jdeal and Metroimma.
When Meron was a young child, people would come visit and he would draw them a picture or, as he would say, “Here is your list”. A list in the Samuels’ household is a big deal. Each night before I go to sleep, I compile my to-do list for the day. I also have a list for the week but each night I set the priorities for the next day. My goal each day is to complete everything on the list. Tasks that need follow up or I did not get to are reassigned. Nothing leaves the list until it’s done. I find the process of writing my list cathartic. It helps me to prioritize, to visualize my day and, most importantly, to compartmentalize. I often have a lot going on at once. Instead of stressing about it all, I stress about only the things on that day’s list, knowing that tomorrow I will deal with other tasks. In that way, I stay calm, complete each project and move on.
I also write down anything that comes to mind – I use iPad notes, Post-it notes, the backs of shopping slips – but at the end of the day, all these things are on my list. The good news is once it’s on my list it does not get removed until it’s done. I find Shabbat really hard and three-day holidays killers. My mind is spinning with things to add to my list and I make acronyms to try to recall everything. Usually, the second Shabbat is out I have Post-it notes in hand, writing down all my to do’s.I also have the five-minute email rule. I try to address all emails as they come in. They are deleted or filed. If I cannot deal with it, I leave it in my inbox. Before I go to sleep, I try clean out my inbox.I sincerely believe that from commitment comes so many things. So I often list the things that I want to do. Personally, I list the places to travel, shows to see, people to catch up with. For my nonprofit, I will think about events I want to run, etc. Once I have my list, I set dates. Once they are on the calendar, I commit to them and start the planning process.
Admittedly I am so obsessive that we have every Sunday planned three months in advance and we usually do not have a free night 60 days out. Our friends know that if you invite us for Shabbat in October I will usually respond that our next free Shabbat is February. By controlling my schedule so tightly, I am able to schedule in four hours of exercise and date night with Gavin each week. The real key to making this working is that I do NOT get stressed when I need to change my plans. I simply shuffle the calendar.In summary, my tips are lists, lists and lists, detailed planning and flexibility. Metroimmas, share how you make yourself more productive…
Originally published: September 19, 2011