Checklist, You Saved My Sanity

This post originally appeared on B Chic University.

March 14, 2017, I had a mental breakdown. I was slouched over in the office of my professor stressing out about an upcoming large-scale event on campus. I’m usually calm and collected, the one organized person during the craziest time of the semester. However, this time, I was hours away from jetting off to SXSW from Chicago and nowhere near prepared to leave all of my responsibilities behind. This was the result of very poor planning. So how did I overcome it? It was very simple and I have to share it with you! This will help you get your life together…for real this time!

Not only did I have a trip to Austin, TX on the horizon, but also Spring Break. This was supposed to be a time of fun, but in reality, I had to complete many tasks that were put on the back burner. If I was going to enjoy my trip to SXSW, I had to at least set a game plan for the rest of my “vacation”.

The Drawing Board…

That night I sat down with my little black notebook and brain dumped all of my tasks over the next two weeks. When I say all, I mean, ALL of my tasks. That ranged from phone calls to make, emails to send, apartment areas to clean, to class assignments. Once that was all on paper, I had to prioritize my checklist.

Being the overly obsessed person I am with organization, I placed each task into its respective category…housekeeping, classes, work, and other. Lastly, the most important part, I assigned due dates.

My final checklist in all it’s glory.

Checklist, work for me, please…

For some reason, in this moment, I knew it was “do or die” with this checklist. Unfortunately, I was motivated by extreme procrastination, late night adrenaline, and anxiety. However, I was also very aware of which realistic deadlines to set. I took into consideration three main things:

  • What is the real deadline? The hard deadline.
  • What am I doing the day before? If I’m free, make that the deadline. If I’m busy, set it as the day before.
  • Complete honesty with myself: Is this deadline procrastinator-friendly?

Procrastination Works…

That last bullet point is the most important. I’m a serial procrastinator, and many of us are! I once heard that anything you procrastinate on is because you do not care about it, not because you have a serious problem. Well, if I’m being honest, I HAVE A PROBLEM! Procrastination is real and I learn to deal with it. So what’s my golden rule? I plan for it! Here’s my mantra: “When’s the latest I can get it done?” I set that as my deadline and forget it…NO REGRETS! Procrastination is only a serious inhibitor when it’s unaccounted for. For example, if you know that you’ll be up until 3 am completing a 10-page paper, you will be prepared with all the coffee and study music you can get your hands on!

I think the biggest problem with our societal conscious is the guilt felt when we wait to the last minute to do something. What if I told you that you can leverage that? If you plan for the last minute performance, is it still unacceptable? Being real with ourselves, we live for the pressure and adrenaline rush to get it done ASAP.

The Results…

So with this newfound acceptance, I killed my checklist! I literally met every deadline on time or the day before. Not only did it become second nature to check my notebook daily for the tasks, but I also found peace in knowing that I didn’t have to wrack my brain for what needed to absolutely be done by that day.

I challenge you to make your own procrastinator-friendly checklist with due dates for one week. Tell me it doesn’t change your life! I know it will. If you’re looking for more personal hacks like this, sign up for the Personal Hacks Chic Letter.