Feeling overwhelmed by your mile-long to-do list? Check out these tips for how to own your to-do list!
Every Monday morning, I pour every little thing I might need to do that week onto a sheet of paper. I love lists. They make me feel more in control, which when you’re life is run by 2 little boys, being in control of some fraction of your life is a nice feeling. But sometimes the list is daunting, which instead of alleviating stress, causes more stress instead. This week my list consisted of people I needed to contact, posts I needed to write, assignments that needed completing, items that needed to be bought or paid, things that needed to be cleaned, appointments that needed to be made.. and that’s just the beginning. When you leave a to-do brainstorming session (<– it’s a thing.) and leave with 2 pages of notes, you know you’ll have a crazy week. So how do you own your to-do list so that you don’t get overwhelmed?
Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite tips and tricks for rocking your to-do list! Be sure to stay through to the bottom for an awesome set of free printables to help get you started!
How to Own Your To-Do List
Get it all out.
Sit down and do a brain dump – spend 5 solid minutes with zero distractions and write down every single minuscule task that needs to be done. Add everything to this list – from workouts to remembering to throw out that container of hummus to scooping the cat box. If it’s not something like playing with your kids, making dinner, or going to work, write it down. Writing it all down will get it out of your head and into a more manageable and tangible space, which will relieve stress. Not having all of those thoughts bouncing around and crashing in your brain frees it up for more important matters.
Either by writing it in a new list, highlighting or adding some kind of symbol, break down your list into categories – work, home, family etc. I want you to PHYSICALLY do it. Don’t just look at it and mentally organize it. If you want, you can also eliminate second nature tasks if desired, like things you already remember to do daily. Personally, I like leaving them since crossing items off of a list is almost euphoric to me. To each her own.
What things have to get done? Are there things that can wait? Make sure that the “must-dos” stay at the top of your list and get done. The “should-dos” can follow and be completed as time allows after your big ones are done. This is so important. If you’re like me, you tend to do your little, easy tasks first because instant gratification is nice. But then your important stuff never gets done. If you see your important tasks at the very top, you are less likely to ignore them.
This is something I am working on myself since I feel like as a SAHM I should be able to do allthethings all by myself. But the reality is you cannot do everything and sleep a reasonable amount. Truth. What tasks on your list would be better completed by someone else? Can you hand some over to your husband or kids? If you have the funds, can you pay someone to do some? A great tip my dad taught me is to put an hourly rate on your own time. So if you value your time at $50 an hour, and something will take you 2 hours to complete, it is costing you $100 of time you could be using on something profitable. Can you pay someone less than or equal to that to do it for you?
Get help when needed.
Going along with the previous one, this is so important if you have littles and something I’m JUST now realizing. If you have people in your life who are willing (or, in my case, begging) to take over watching the kids for a few hours while you get stuff done, DO IT. My MIL comes over once or twice a week while Alex is at work and watches the boys while I go and do blog work or get some grocery shopping done or whatever on my list that is easier to do without kids. You’re saving time and sanity by asking people who WANT to help you to do just that. You are still super mom if you ask for help, trust me.
Choose 3-5 items.
Each morning, choose 3-5 tasks that absolutely need to get done that day. What are the 3 things that if you get NOTHING else done but these, you’ll be happy? This helps to set realistic goals for your time and abilities, relieving stress that is often associated with your to-do list. If you get those done, the rest is a bonus.
Work through in cycles.
Remember how you categorized your list earlier? Put that into action. Do one task from each category in a cyclical manner, finishing each task completely before moving onto the next one. I find this is the best way for me to not get bored or distracted when I’m trying to knock-off a bunch of my tasks. A timer is a fabulous tool for making sure you stay on task and don’t spend too much time on one category. Sometimes rather than doing one task at a time, I’ll do 15 minutes of blog work then 15 minutes of cleaning and so on and so forth.
Reevaluate how you’re using your time.
Are you not completing as many tasks as you should be able to? Where is your time going? If you were to ask me (and about 2/3 of the world, I’m sure) social media is where my time gets sucked. I go on to check one little thing and then an hour later I’m 8 tabs deep and I still haven’t checked what I came on for. I found this Google Chrome extension really eye opening – it tells you how long you have spent on each page. Once you have determined where your time goes, think of ways to combat that. Maybe delete the app off your phone of add a blocker to your computer that blocks a webpage after you’ve been on it for a predetermined amount of time.
Know that it won’t all get done.
I know. This is hard for me too. But the reality is, your entire to-do list will never get 100% completed. There will be things that just don’t get done. There are things that will always need to be done. (I’m looking at your laundry) Move it to your next to-do list and try for it next week. If you move it to 3 to-do lists and still have not finished that item, take a step back and evaluate why. Is it not a true priority? Is there an emotional reason you’re not finishing it? Commit to either dropping the task altogether or finishing it within 3 days. Set finite boundaries for yourself.
Looking for more ways to organize your to-do list to help you own it? I created these awesome printables just for you! These awesome to-do list weekly worksheets are perfect for organizing each week’s to-do’s in each category of your life. Each sheet has a spot for tasks that are completed daily as well as check marks to correspond with each day. Below there are lines and check boxes for your weekly to-dos. Click the button below to sign up for my newsletter and receive your set of printables. I tried to think of every category you may need, but a blank one is also provided if I missed one!
So tell me – does your to-do list stress you out? Do you love lists as much as I do? What are your favorite ways to rock your to-do list? Let me know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these!
Got a picky eater?
My kids eat their veggies every day without complaining. Want my secret?
Grab the Outsmart your Picky Eater cheat sheets to get the inside scoop on how to add veggies to food your kids already love.