The secret behind how I get things done.

This post was made possible by Ingo Money.

to-do bookHi. My name is To-Do Book. (Hey don't judge, I didn't name myself you know.) I'm cute, obviously. But my real magic is that I keep Jordan's life on-track. Well, as best as anyone can, anyway. Jordan has fallen back in love with me recently. She bought me a while back (I was on sale, so that was a no brainer), and started using me as her place to write down her to-do list. It worked great for a while, but then she got out of the habit and I started collecting dust. (Between you and me, that's when Hurricane Hilda started taking over the Page Household.)

Recently Jordan picked me up again and I haven't left her side since. Our relationship is going great! We're keeping each other encouraged, on-track, organized, and what do you know, Hilda is on vacation much of the time! Now, if only she could find me a boyfriend for her husband…

to-do bookThanks for the introduction, To-Do book! Aww, isn't she the best?

It's true. There's no lying. This simple, pretty little book is the secret to how my life functions. Don't get me wrong, it takes an army to keep me functional – Google Calendar, paper calendars, emails, Notepad and Evernote apps in my phone,  apps (see below for a pretty cool one!) and a patient and loving husband that puts up with a lot of chaos. But above everything else, I have found this one little book to be the best tool of all.

to-do book

Here's how my To-Do Book works:

  • I always have my to-do book with me. I keep it at my desk while I'm working, on my nightstand at night, or in my purse when I leave the house – I never leave home without it.
  • Throughout the day I write down ANYTHING that I need to do. No matter how simple, quick, or mindless it is…I write it down.
  • I choose to write it manually rather than keep it digitally on my phone for a few reasons: I like being able to make quick scribble sub-notes, I like crossing to-do's off (see below), and when you physically write something down it embeds itself in your memory better so I'm more likely to stay on-track even without my book!
  • I divide up my To'Do's. Since I work from home, I have one page of HOME to-do's, and one of BLOG to-do's. It helps me to divide out my time so I can work on work-stuff when I'm working, and home-stuff when I'm not working, and not cross over.

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  • If it needs to be done that day, I mark it as priority. I'm careful only to mark priority items as those that MUST get done today.

to-do 1

  • I refer to my book CONSTANTLY throughout the day. If I have a quick 5 minutes, I scan through my book to see what I can accomplish. When I am done with one task and am ready to move on to another, I scan my book to see what my next priority should be.
  • As soon as I accomplish a “to-do”, I cross it off…and boy does it feel good! This is one of the main reason why I choose to write down my to-do list rather than keep it digitally in my phone – the satisfaction of crossing things off keeps me encouraged and helps me feel productive!

to-do book

  • Once a page is mostly crossed out, I will put a big X through it, and will turn the page and start on a new page. I will transfer the non-completed to-do's from the X'd out page to the new page. (Note: The picture above isn't the best example, but it's a super old page that I don't mind if you see my to-do's. I have to keep my current to-do's secret because I have some exciting things going on that I don't want you to read about yet!)
  • I chose this particular book for a few reasons. It's sturdy (needs to be! It gets pretty trashed.), its cute (that's a must!), it was cheap (only $2.99 at TJ Maxx), it has the bookmark in it (easy to find where you are), and it had big, wide lines on it which makes it easy to read my chicken scratch and scribbles.

to-do book

I also really like how thick it is. Bulkier to carry around? Yes. But I like the feeling of writing in a thick book I guess! Plus it gives me lots of room to grow.

 

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  • My favorite pen is this super-skinny pen that Bubba got from the Four Seasons hotel on a business trip. I only have two of them and I'm already mourning the day when my pen runs out of ink or gets lost. I LOVE IT. I keep my pen tucked inside my book and carry it around like that.

book and pen

So there you go! Couldn't get any simpler.

I have to tell you, this system really works for me. On the days that I don't consult with my to-do book I find myself circling the house aimlessly, not sure what to do with myself. It's not an exaggeration, either. I literally say “what do I need to be doing right now?” and can't answer. Don't rely on your brain to remember everything! Find a system that works for you!

Ways to personalize the To-Do book system, and why it's important:

  • You could write the estimated task completion length next to it. Write a 5, 10, or 30 next to the task, so if you have a quick 5, 10, or 30 minutes you know exactly what you can work on.
  • Color-code your tasks based on priority.
  • Use technology. If you aren't a writer-down type, keep an ongoing list in your phone! I LOVE using apps to keep me on track.
  • In general, SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE! Use any and all tools to help make your life EASIER!

The other day I heard about this new mobile app called Ingo Money. It helps you deposit checks right from your phone onto a reloadable Prepaid card without having to go to the bank. There is NO NEED to make a special trip to the bank, just to deposit a check! That's one of those to-do's that you really shouldn't need to write down any more. This is also perfect for those who are starting out on a budget and want to try out Prepaid cards in order to carry around less cash. Plus I caught wind that Ingo Money is hosting an instant win game and giving away $20 gift cards and a grand prize of $500towards a smartphone on their Facebook page!

Now, if only there were an app to make it so that I never have to go to a post office ever ever ever again…

to-do book

Do you have a to-do book? What do YOU use to stay organized and not forget the little things? Are you going to try a to-do book? Leave a comment and share! Or better yet, post a picture of your book online and be sure to tag me so I see it – @funcheaporfree.

XOXO,

Jordan-signature1

 

I am blogging on behalf of Ingo Money and received compensation for my time from Ingo Money for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Ingo’s. Learn more about the Ingo Money mobile app at http://www.IngoMoney.com, or connect with the Ingo community at https://www.facebook.com/ingomoney.

Comments

  1. Love the tip, so simple yet so effective! I have to say that any ideas for the busy mom I appreciate. I am constantly juggling tasks and then when I do get a chance to sit down, I realize that I had something I was suppose to be doing! I will aspire to be more organized like you!

  2. Wow, there was an insane amount of pop-up ads on your site while reading that post…I counted 13 in the time it took me to read it. I understand you are trying to make money, but that is REALLY distracting.

  3. I have found myself quite useless without a to-do list book also. I manage two at-home businesses, mine, and my husbands, and there is always so much to do. I am glad I am not the only one who is lost without a list! I can have a thought about a thing that needs done, and if I don’t write it down, it’s gone, until its too late! LOL… great post… love your site… found it through pinterest last week, and have been getting your email updates since…

  4. I use an app called list ease for my grocery list and love it!! For other things I either write down as well or use the reminders app already on my phone! 😀

  5. I love this tip. I use a book for my bills and carry it around daily but I need to add my to-do list to it because I forget a lot of things. Do you put your grocery list in there also? Love your blog, it is just what I needed.

    • I actually keep my grocery list in my phone because I never ever go without my phone, but there have been times that I’ve walked out without my to-do book. But I usually put “grocery shopping” or “pick up milk” or something task-oriented on there. Thanks for reading!

  6. Jordan, I really like the phone app called Any.DO
    It allows you to swipe away completed tasks and automatically transfers undone tasks to the next day.
    Like you, I love pen and paper, but I find I always have my phone with me, while I don’t always carry a notebook and pen. I also agree that physically writing down a task helps, so maybe the ideal would be this Any.DO app on a phone that has a stylus.
    Thanks for your videos and blog, which I discovered via one of your YouTube tutorials.
    Lisa

  7. I have multiple notepads that I keep my to do lists on. I just grab whichever one is closest to me at the time and jot it down. Most of the time they are the magnetic shopping list style or smaller notebook that I occasionally transfer items from one to the other. I like the large book idea to keep everything together. Off to hunt for one of my own. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  8. I’ve been doing something similar for about 4 years now (got rid of that big, heavy day planner). I use a cheap notebook (7 x 5) and use those removable tabs for the different areas. I have sections for groceries, to do, projects, b-days, book club books, entertainment (movies to see, books to get), gifts, etc. I customized it to my needs. Since it is a spiral notebook, I can keep my pen/pencil right in the spiral, so that I always have it. When a page is done, I just tear it out and toss it. This has worked great for me.

  9. I love your To-Do book. I’m a list maker as well but my problem is I have 4 notebooks! I have a notebook for To Do’s, one for sewing/crafting projects with supplies list, one for recipes/meal ideas and a planner. I’m wondering if a planner is even needed since I keep all my events updated on my phone but I feel like I can’t really combine the other three into one. What would you do? Any suggestions?

    • I don’t have a planner because I have to keep my calendar strictly digital – so my husband and FCF team members can see it, and so I can make changes in an instant. So I use Google Calendar on my phone for scheduling, then just keep my to-do’s in this book. Works for me!

  10. As someone who has always used the “I wish I journaled more” line, I find that a to-do book can double as a journal as well. When my great Aunt passed away last year, we found in her collection of recipes, handwritten menus that she served for various events and little memorable moments or foods that particular people enjoyed. Just as she used her recipes and books to journal in, I think a to-do book is great for just this–I can keep track of everything on a blank sheet of paper–to-dos, events, dinner plans, little memorable moments that I want to remember, recipes that were hits for one reason or another, quotes that catch my eye or speak to me, ANYTHING. Years of keeping track of life this way, is, in a sense, very journalistic. So, it helps me to feel less bad about not capturing the day to day things or feeling like I have nothing momentous to write about. All the details are already captured and it really is fun to look back on later.

  11. I was ogling that pen. Maybe you could contact the Four Season and ask for a few. 🙂 Thanks for this post. I’m going to apply some of your principles to help me stay on track and organized. Thanks!

  12. I found one of your tips on Pintrest and started getting your emails. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog! In answer to your question as to how we stay organized, I have used Calendarscope for about 5 or6 tears now. It’s a desktop calendar but I stay home so it works great for me. I keep all of my appointments, bills, birthdays and even my cleaning schedule on it. Everything is color-coded and beautiful. I never miss anything! I also use the app ‘Out of Milk”. I have my favorite store’s isles all laid out so I don’t have to backtrack!

  13. I am always writing my thoughts and to do’s on random pieces of paper and post its. I love the idea of having a cute journal type book. Gonna have to look in the clearance section at TJMAXX….they always have a bunch of cute ones 🙂

  14. I have the same pen from the Four Seasons in Sydney. It is the perfect size and I love how it writes so smooth. (When I saw the picture I thought that looks like my pen

  15. I have used this system for many years and it is how I accomplish much! Years ago I kept a journal book with Tweety Bird on the front. I thought it was so cute and fun to carry around. My well-meaning sister in law, and a professional , felt sorry for ma and purchased a nice calendar planner set, etc. While it was nice and I attempted to use it for a while, I ended up going back to journal system. It suits my way of thinking and how I function. So today, many years after the organizer, I am back to the journal with my lists of “things to do”. I LOVE marking off items off my list.

    • Doesn’t marking things off feel SO GOOD?? I love it. I’m glad you found what works for you, thanks for sharing! XOXO

  16. I use a journal for, well journaling, but also I keep my to do list in it. I use a couple of standard symbols as bullets. A standard to do item gets a check box. Something I need to buy gets a $. An idea for a project will have a little light bulb. If I need to look up or research something I use a little set of eyeballs (complete with eyelashes and a little smile).

    Periodically (usually weekly) I go through my journal and transcribe my lists, projects and ideas into my iCloud notes and calendar which syncs up with my iPhone. So I have both digital and physical copies of things.

    I am a single mom so this works for me as I am the only one who needs the lists and calendars. When I am not a single mom anymore, I may incorporate your shared calendar idea.

  17. I fell in love with a pen from the Marriott. I googled “Marriott pens” and after a few searches, I found out they were made by Bic and even found the style number and bought a bunch on Amazon!! Try it 🙂

  18. I love your notebook tip! I have also found that emailing myself with the “to-do” task in the subject line is also effective. We always check our email and it’s on our phone. When we get it done, we can delete it. Out of sight, out of mind! It has worked for me, maybe it can help someone else! =)

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