to do lists

Time is on Your Side

I don’t know how anyone gets anything done without a to-do list. If I don’t make a list I end up wasting the entire day. If you didn’t think I was nerdy before, I usually keep a macro and micro list. Here are some tips:

1. Start your list for the next day in the afternoon. I have found that writing the list during the day time helps me sleep better. It gives me plenty of time to add the random things I remember so I don’t stay up thinking about what I need to do tomorrow.

2. Keep a weekly to-do list. I don’t like making daily lists because then my days feel to structured. On Sunday I’ll write down all the things I need to do for the following week. Every day I go over the list and pick the things I want to do for that day. If a friend calls and wants to have lunch, I know that the list is still there and I’ll be able to catch up tomorrow. Keeping a weekly list allows for some spontaneity but also ensures that everything gets done.

3. Plan for the future. This tip comes from my dad. This isn’t necessary for most people, but if you have a big goal it’s hard to keep track of your progress if you don’t make a Macro-to-do list. Figure out when you want to accomplish your goal, make a list of everything you need to do to make that goal, and then assign a deadline for each of those tasks. If you don’t do this it’s easy to let things take longer than they need to.  My dad is a big fan of Parkinson’s law : Work expands to fill the time allotted.

4. Write it on paper. I never got into using my phone for to-do lists. First of you have to remember to check your phone for the list. And I guarantee that every time you check your phone you’ll get distracted my a text message, or an email, or low battery. I keep my list right by my computer so it’s visible, and I can easily add things. Plus it’s so rewarding to cross something off my list. When I’m done with my list it looks like a scribbled out mess. If you’re really against pen and paper, I suggest google tasks. It’s simple and easy.

5. Include some fun things. I always include some self indulgent activities on my list. It reminds me that taking care of myself is just as important as filing my tax return.

I hope this helps you get more done!

You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
Charles Bruxton

The power of writing

Write everything down. I´ve heard this advice before, but I never take it seriously. I bought a beautiful little moleskin book before coming here, and I´ve made a conscious effort to write down everything I learn, observe, or need to do. When I look through it I´m amazed at how much I´ve already forgotten. Two days ago I played a game called Pitufar, and I said that word so many times while playing the game I thought I´d never be able to forget it. However, that night I was telling my host mother about it, and for the life of me I couldn´t remember the name of it. Good thing I wrote it down.

Not only does writing help you remember, it also helps you clear your head. I was starting to panic about all the things I need to do before leaving Salamanca. I was going over and over the list in my head (even translating it into Spanish). However as soon as I wrote the list down I realized I only had five things to do. And they´re not even difficult. But when the list was just floating around in my head it was hard to get perspective on it. Now that the list is on paper I can distance myself from it, and I can think about more important things such as whether to get wine or sangria after class.

I suggest buying a pretty notebook that you don´t mind taking with you everywhere you go. Now I´ve tried this before but I´ve always been too intimidated to write in a pretty journal. I think, I must fill these beautiful pages with beautiful thoughts. I can´t put my grocery list in a Moleskin, what would Picasso or Hemingway think? (If you´re not familiar with Moleskin, they´re handmade journals that have been used by all the great writers and artists of the past – at least that´s what they tell me). Here´s what helped me. I scribled all over the first page. I made a big fat mess, and now anything I write in the book will be an improvement over the first page. Try it. I atually think the more messy the pages the better. I like flipping through the pages and seeing all my different handwritings, and doodles, and side notes. It´s almost like a visual of how my brain works.

I also love writing in a moleskin at restaurants. When a waiter sees one they automatically think you´re a food critic or a writer for a travel guide. As soon as I bring mine out, all of sudden the waiter becomes super attentive. I get free glasses of wine, and sometimes they let me try some of their specialties for free. I kid you not, this has happened three times since I got here. Maybe I play it up a bit. I have been known to take a bite, look up as if I´m thinking about how to describe it, and then write down a few notes. Usually I´m writing about how my day went, but the waiter doesn´t need to know that.

On a side note, today was my last day of classes. I´m going to miss my helpful teachers, and my fellow classes. Don Quijote is an excellent school and I´d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Spanish abroad. Today for the first time ever I spoke in Spanish without thinking. I said three sentences to a guard at a museum and I thought to myself his English is good. And then I realized, oh wait I´m speaking in Spanish!

My tiny class