Thursday, August 9, 2012

Job search tip of the day: Make a To Do List and Cross Things Off

It is easy to get overwhelmed if you are conducting an active job search! Throw in the fact your home and family life continue to require your thoughts, effort, time and money and it can seem as if there is no way to get everything done. 

When you are juggling a lot of responsibilities it is often helpful to make a to do list.  This list can be as simple or as detailed as you like, but I recommend just sitting down and making a plain old-fashioned list on paper.  For now don’t pay any attention to order or whether it is for job search, home or family.

Carry a pen and the notebook you make this list on with you all day.  Every time you think of something that needs to be done write it down.  If you later think of a task, actually open up the notebook and find it on the list. Remind yourself it is written down.  Let it go.

At the end of the day, cross off anything you happened to do since you started your list – instant progress!  Organize the remaining tasks into broad categories according to what makes sense for your tasks.

For example, I organize my lists according to whether or not they can be done at the computer, on the phone, or in the car (errands).  I tend to do things when I am in the mood or have a chunk of time, so this makes sense to me.  It might make more sense in your situation to have categories like Job Search, Networking, House, Errands, Kids. 

Don’t make too many categories or your list will quickly suck up too much of your time trying to keep things straight.  Once you have identified your categories label each task with the first letter of the appropriate category: J for Job Search, N for networking, etc.

Now that you have each task on your list assigned to a category tear out that page and label the tops of fresh sheets with your categories. At this point you should have several pages with each of your categories at the top.

Copy your tasks over onto the appropriate page until all your tasks have been transferred.  Now you have a list of things to do for each of your selected categories.  Scan down through each and number the first three on each page that you want to complete before all the others.

Voila!  You have an organized list of things to do tomorrow and will have a productive day without worry.  Make sure to cross off or check mark each task that you complete so that you can see your progress. 

Add anything that comes up to the appropriate list.  When you fill a page, just start a new one and transfer only the undone tasks to the fresh page.  Even if you tend to use the computer to organize yourself I recommend you use the paper method to get started.

To organize your list on the computer, try one of the following.
Your calendar (Outlook, google, Hotmail, other)
Word or other word processing program
Excel or other spreadsheet program

Don’t forget to cross off each item as you complete the task – it will give you a sense of accomplishment, not to mention satisfaction!

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