Some might refer to it as a “mind dump.” My preference is “backlog” as it’s exactly that. Simply put, it’s a list of everything that needs to be done. However, don’t let that idea scare you away!

Creating a Backlog

As overwhelming as it sounds, it can be helpful to write down every to do in one place. Remember, it’s somewhat like taking an inventory so that you can make a plan to get things done. That plan isn’t to get it all done at once.

Assess the items on the list. Often when I’ve created a backlog there have been a few items that I can immediately cross off the list. These are things that I thought I would want to do, or thought I should do, but have been putting off and just know it’s not going to happen. Sometimes we have to be super honest with ourselves that suggested book, complex recipe, or even an invite to an event just isn’t our thing, and that’s okay!

Purpose of a backlog

Think of the backlog as a base list for all other to-do lists. It can be tempting to want to be productive and go through your backlog directly. Personally, I keep my backlog close by for when I’m planning my day, and my week. It’s easily accessible when I need it so that I can move items over.

I treat my weekly notes section as a weekly backlog sometimes when I have a task that I’m not sure where to place, but I’d like to get it done that week. Daily, I pick around 5 – 7 tasks a day and work away at them. Those are what I focus on and I start with the higher priority items. Check one off, move to the next.

Continually adding to your to-do list is much like moving the goal post and by doing so we won’t feel we got anything done – just that we have so much to do still.

The details

The details are really all about preference. Backlogs can be on paper or electronic. They can be ongoing, weekly, monthly, or even used on an as-needed basis when getting started with day planning, or getting caught up when tasks have piled.

The list doesn’t need to be beautiful or categorized, but can be. It can also be specific to a project or contain everything that comes to mind. As I often mention with day planners / getting organized – you can be as creative, or not, as you want to be – as long as it helps you simplify and create less stress.