The Hat Trick

This happens to me a lot. I often find myself overwhelmed with the things on my to-do list. Even though I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Lists I sometimes struggle to complete all of the tasks I’ve set out for myself. Sometimes just looking at my list paralyzes me with anxiety and I end up doing nothing as a result. This means I’ll have twice as many things to do the next day and my stress level will soar through the roof.

I have a friend who suffers from the same problem so I asked her how she dealt with her to-do list paralysis. She taught me the hat trick, a way of completing items on your to-do list that eliminates any need to make a decision.

Basically, you write each task on a separate piece of scrap paper, then crumple up each piece and throw them into a hat (or a box, or whatever). Close your eyes and pick up one of those pieces of paper. Whatever is written is the thing you have to do next- no putting it back! Repeat this process until the hat is empty.

When I first heard about this I laughed because it seemed so simple. After trying it though, I’m pleased to report that it’s extremely effective, especially for those who struggle with making decisions. (Ahem. That’s me.)

However, the hat trick only works if your to-do list is organized. Each task needs to be clearly defined and big projects need to be broken down into smaller steps, otherwise you risk the temptation of putting things off even further. (For more on how to do this, click here and here.)

The biggest flaw of the hat trick is that it does not help define priorities. If there are tasks on your to-do list that are time sensitive or a high priority, you need to complete them before performing the hat trick so that they don’t get lost in the shuffle (literally).

It may seem like common sense but some it’s a revelation: taking the decision-making out of the equation can lead to a quicker, more efficient workflow which makes the whole process of completing your to-do list a lot less painful. And- dare I say it- could maybe make it more fun?

What’s your favourite way of dealing with your to-do list? Email me your secrets at or comment below. Looking for more ways to stay organized and productive? Click here and here.

You, in Lists

I am the Queen of Lists. (It’s not a self-proclaimed title either; just ask anyone who knows me.) I freaking love them. I have lists for just about everything and around this time of year I like to review them (especially if I’m doing a yearly review, which I highly recommend you do as well.)

What kind of lists am I talking about? I’m talking about the lists that make up you: the things you like and dislike, the things that you think about, the dreams that you have. You have to have at least some of those written down, don’t you?

Here are some of the things that you may or may not have lists about:

  • favourite books/books to read/favourite genres
  • music to try
  • places you’ve visited
  • places to go
  • foods to try/favourite foods/restaurants
  • bucket lists/goals for week, month, year, season, vacation or life
  • movies to watch/favourite movies/TV shows
  • favourite ways of coping with stress
  • rainy day list/wish list
  • ideas for parties/birthday gifts/Christmas gifts
  • favourite board games/card games/party games
  • ideas for garden/outdoor space/home
  • favorite drinks/drinks to try
  • packing lists
  • websites to check out
  • books/items that friends have borrowed
  • savings goals
  • fitness goals
  • beauty products/treatments to try

I keep all of my “me” lists in my planner so when I’m planning a shopping trip, organizing a movie night with friends or just deciding which book to read next I have the all close at hand. It makes my daily planning more personal and purpose-driven.

Looking to try this in your own life? Here’s some examples of some of the lists I have going now:

  • This is the time of year I like to review the list of all of the items I’ve borrowed off of friends over the year. (And by items I mean books. Check out what I’m catching up on this winter here.)
  • I don’t know anything about wine so I always consult my list of favourites before I go to the store; honestly, I draw a blank every time I get there.
  • A lot of conversations with friends these days involve TV shows they’ve been binge-watching on Netflix. I try to keep track of the titles mentioned so I always have something to watch instead of scrolling through the list of Netflix recommendations for an hour. (I think my next one is Vikings. What do you guys think?)

What are some of the lists that you keep about your likes and dislikes? Where do you store them? Are there any ideas for lists that I didn’t include here? Give me a shout below or let me know at and I’ll add your list to my list of lists!

I’m always looking for the best ways to manage my time and workflow more effectively and efficiently. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your productivity as well, click here for more strategies that I’ve developed and researched and here for more ways to stay organized. For more ways to deal with your busy lifestyle, click here.



I talk a lot about the business of keeping busy on my blog (hey, the word busy is even in the title) but once in awhile you deserve a time out. I’m here today to give you permission to do just that. After all, what is the point in figuring out the most productive way to get things done if you’re not using that free time to cultivate fun and actually live your life.

If you feel that some excitement has been missing from your life lately, you need to create a Someday/Maybe list, like immediately. The idea is not an original one- David Allen introduces this concept in his book Getting Things Done (which I reviewed here)- and uses the Someday/Maybe list as a place to capture future projects and business goals.

I took his idea one step further and created a Someday/Maybe list of all of the things I want to do, and learn, and explore throughout my life. Sure, some of these hopes may seem unrealistic. I might not even get around to them in this lifetime. But it’s still fun to dream.

What’s on your someday/maybe list? Here’s a list of some of the things that you may (or may not) wish to include:

  • books that you’d like to read; movies and TV shows to watch; new music you’d like to listen to;
  • hobbies that you’d like to try; hobbies you’d like to improve; abandoned hobbies that you’d like to take up again;
  • restaurants/food/recipes that you’d like to try;
  • shows, festivals and exhibits that you’d like to attend;
  • degrees, certificates, or certifications you’d like to earn; seminars, courses or workshops you’d like to attend;
  • new languages or skills you’d like to learn or improve
  • vacation destinations- complete with people to visit, things to do and places to stay.

I keep a copy of my Someday/Maybe list in my Command Central binder to refer back to and revise every so often. It serves as a great reminder as to why I do what I do in the first place and those days when things get a little too hectic it feels so refreshing to take a moment to read it, and dream. On paper, your life has no limits. It’s a beautiful and freeing thing.

KBwB-BFlower-50What’s on your Someday/Maybe list? I’m dying to know. Maybe we have something in common! Share your thoughts below or keep them between us by sending them to Your dreams are safe with me!

Wanna take a little peek into what’s on my Someday/Maybe list? Check out my Goodreads profile for my ever-growing list of books that I want to read (which is basically, like, all the books.) I’m also a little bit of a Pinterest junkie. You can see what’s been catching my eye on one of my numerous inspiration boards here.

Take Control of Your Life with a Command Central Binder

KBB_colorful_calendar_even_closelierHonest-to-goodness, one of the best organizing strategies that I have used in my life has been the implementation of what’s commonly known among the organizing bloggers as the “Command Central Binder”. It has become one of the most important tools in my workflow system and if I didn’t swear by it, I wouldn’t be sharing mine with y’all today.

I have to give credit where credit is due: this is not an original idea. The idea of a Command Central binder was first introduced to me when I started receiving the Simplify 101 newsletter. (I don’t know anyone who works there I swear! I just troll the Internet for organizing resources because I have a serious addiction to that kind of thing.)

The reason why the Command Central binder is so useful that it is a collection tool designed to allow you more control over the various aspects of your life by keeping all information relevant to you stored in one convenient place. At first I struggled with the idea of creating one because it seemed to be geared towards the busy mother looking to manage multiple schedules, papers, records, tasks and other important information in a place that was at her fingertips. And it is that. But it’s also so much more.

I took the concept one step further and realized I could take the basic principles behind the Command Central binder and adopt them to my own workflow needs. I have a section for all of my to-do lists involving some of the personal and professional projects that I’m working on right now and another section that contains my monthly budget and all of my financial worksheets. The sections don’t have to be strictly utilitarian, either. There’s a section in mine that’s simply for all of books I want to read (the ones that aren’t already logged on my Goodreads profile) and yet another section that tracks future projects and wish lists that I’ve appropriately labeled “Wishin’ and Hopin’”

The key to a making a Command Central binder that works for you is to personalize it as much as you possibly can. It took me of years of tweaking my formula to arrive at the sections that worked for me but because I don’t have children I instead used my Command Central binder as a place to keep track of anything that has to do with my personal and professional well-being and growth. Some of the sections included are the ones I’ve described above; there are a few others as well. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Anything that you need to refer to on a constant basis goes here. Any tools to help your routines, schedules and workflow management belong here as well. Use some of my examples or create your own. Consider including: calendars, school lunch menus, extra-curricular and volunteer schedules, account information and passwords, contacts, chore charts, pantry inventories, budgets, wish lists, to-do lists, membership information, someday/maybe tasks…the list is virtually endless. Once you’ve figured out which pieces of information are most relevant to you, make sure they’re organized in a way that’s easy to use. Refer back to your Command Central binder and revise often to meet your changing needs. I hope you find yours as useful as I’ve found mine.


Have you adopted a Command Central binder into your organizing system? Comment below and share what worked for you. Or drop me a line at and I’ll try to include it an upcoming post. Still looking for other ways to get organized? Click here to read more about some of the methods I’ve found useful.



Run Your Errands More Effectively Today!

KBB_fancy_starbucksOne of my friends recently took on a new part-time job; it’s not a permanent thing, but it helps her get her foot in the door in the particular field in which she wants to eventually work. A couple of extra shifts a week though meant drastically reorganizing her well-crafted schedule so much so that all of her routines were thrown off balance. When I asked her how her weekend was the other day, she was responded with the usual complaint that she never felt she had enough time to herself. “I spend most of my time off doing chores and running errands,” she complained. “I’m always popping out to do one thing or another and it’s starting to get to the point where I feel like I’m a jack-in-the-box.”

Have you experienced this too? Girl (guy), I know the feeling. As a freelancer my schedule is all over the place and I’ve had jobs where I’ve found myself working at all sorts of strange hours while still trying to have a life. It’s sad that so much of what should be vital personal time is eaten up by mundane daily tasks, but I do have some tricks for taking back that me-time. One of them is trying to running my errands more effectively.

Running “errands”- going to the post office, marketing, picking up and dropping off gift items, donations, prescriptions, dry cleaning- all of these things are necessary evils in order for our lives to run smoothly. But if I left the house every time I needed something, or every time another task popped up, I’d be leaving the house constantly. There’s nothing fun or productive about it.

That’s why I keep track of all of my errands in an ongoing list I have stashed at the back of my agenda and try to group similar tasks to suit my needs and my schedule. I work a lot from home, so I try to save my errands for times when I’m already out of the house so I don’t have to make special trips for specific items. Where possible I try to delegate my tasks or incorporate them into a dog walk. (That is, of course, providing the errand in question is dog-friendly. My dog has been known to shoplift. I wish I that was joke.) As a last resort I will put aside a chunk of time to complete my errands and plan the most straightforward route ahead of time.

A little bit of preparation can help you fit these pesky tasks into your schedule in a painless way, but a little behind-the-scenes work can help as well. I always like to make sure my bag is packed ahead of time and I always try to make sure I pack whatever I need to complete any errands I might do on my outing.

And if there’s one rule that I live by, it’s: never, ever leave the house without a list. (Anyone who has wandered around the grocery store after work starving knows what I’m talking about.) The key to running your errands more effectively is to make sure you’re prepared and there’s nothing more productive than a list that’s able to keep track of what you’re doing, where you’re going, and what you need in order to do it.

Who knows? You might even make you enjoy getting out of the house for once.


Is there one errand that you absolutely hate doing? Mine is going to the post office. I’d love to hear yours when you drop me a line at For more suggestions on how to organize yourself, get yourself over to my Busy page.

When Those Lists Keep Adding Up

KBB_stack_of_filingAlmost everyone I know has a to-do list. Think about yours. It could be on a piece of paper, scrunched in a corner of your daily agenda, or neatly outlined on your Smartphone. Maybe it’s just in your head as you scramble to get out the door to do your errands.

No matter what form, we all have our ways of prioritizing all of the things we need to do in order to keep our businesses, homes or lives in order.

Now I want you to think about your list. If you’re like most people, your list is probably a mile long. You’re bound to forget one of those things, or worse: you might put it off.

Thought about that list? Great. Now ask yourself, what’s the one thing that’s been on here forever? What do I just keep forgetting? What to-do just seems to keep on slipping through the slats? You might have to dig a little deeper to think of that one thing but once you have it, grab onto it mentally and don’t let go.

Is this an exercise in procrastination? (No. I was going to write a post about that but I think I’ll just do it later.) It’s actually proof of something that I’ve only learned very recently.

To-do lists don’t work.

Now don’t immediately start composing that nasty email to me, because to-do lists have helped out a ton of people, myself included. But all too often we fall into the trap of using a to-do list as a brain dump. We write down every single little thing we’ve ever thought of doing ever, instead of just keeping it short, sweet and limited to a certain category of things.

People familiar with the practice of GTD (Getting Things Done) will remember how creator David Allen suggests organizing several to-do lists in order of context.

I have to admit that had been something that has helped me tremendously. My lists are shorter and I am much more selective about each of the items that go on each list.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a hardcore GTD convert in order to gain something from this practice. The next time you write down a to-do list for all of the errands you need to run on Saturday morning, limit the things you need to do to just that Saturday morning. If it’s not an errand, don’t add it to the list. If you do, you run the risk of losing your memory’s grip on that item and the task will never be completed. Not much of a to-do list, right?

It may seem like common sense, but you’d never include items to pick up at the grocery store on a list of things to do to clean your garage. So why would you do any of that to your to-do lists?

Try at least grouping your to-dos into like categories. You may even want to try separating those to-do lists by context, rooms in your house, or by home improvement projects. Whatever floats your boat!

Who knows? You might actually end up getting some of those nasty tasks crossed off.

KBwB-BFlower-50How many items do you have on your to-do list? I’d love to hear about yours as well. Drop me a line at or comment below. Together let’s get them done! Looking for other projects to keep you busy? I’ve been sharing all of mine here.