I’ve been there ladies. In fact, I visit there about once a week on average. You know what I’m talking about. Your to-do list is massive and for every one thing you manage to cross off, it feels like you add three more!
It can be totally and completely overwhelming. To the point that you might just feel like chucking the list altogether and cozying up on the couch with some Netflix instead.
But inevitably the list waits for you. And while you can’t go go go all day every day (see my post on How to relax and have more fun!), avoiding your list altogether only creates that procrastination hangover feeling, and it builds the longer you defer taking action.
So let’s tackle that to-do list once and for all shall we?
Here’s how I make it more manageable.
Do a massive brain dump
I start with writing down every single thing that I can possibly think of that needs doing. Anything that’s been swirling in my brain, big or small, I get it out and on to paper.
To help myself recall ALL THE THINGS, I tend to chunk my life out into categories. What needs doing for work, for the blog, for the household in general. Are there items you need to remember to pick up? Appointments that need booking? Does your car need an oil change? Literally everything.
Wait a minute. I thought this process was supposed to help me feel less overwhelmed, not more! Stick with me…
Now you’ve got your massive list, take a good look through it and identify any items that perhaps you do not have to PERSONALLY do. Are there tasks you can assign to your husband, an assistant or coworker, your children even (they’re capable of more than we give them credit!).
You do not need to single-handedly carry the world on your shoulders.
Don’t forget about subcontracting or hiring someone if that’s within your means. Your time is valuable, and maybe it’s worth the dollars for you to not spend your entire Saturday cleaning your house.
Once you’ve identified these items – assign them immediately! Text your husband. Shoot off a quick email to your coworker. Get it done and out of your brain.
Defer to your future self
Next I want you to pick out any items that don’t need doing in the immediate future. Maybe you don’t want to forget about them, but they can wait a week or a month or whatever the case may be.
Relegate those items to a long-term to-do list (I keep a running one in the notes app on my phone) or a future spot in your calendar.
Decide if some items just don’t need doing
This has been an epiphany for me since pursuing minimalism and getting more clear on my values and more intentional with my time.
Maybe some things just don’t need doing that badly. Not tomorrow, not next month, not ever. If a task or project has rolled over from one to-do list to the next, and I’ve never seemed to get around to it, that’s a sign that it’s probably not a priority.
If it’s not important enough for me to make it one, and there’s no major consequence of NOT doing it, I no longer feel guilty about just scrapping it altogether.
And let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to cross off an item without even having to do it! LOL
Batch those quick to-do’s
These are those tasks that are not hard, don’t require a lot of brain power, and typically will take you ten minutes or less. Paying a bill, RSVP’ing to that event, or watering your plants, for example.
Now that your list is hopefully a wee bit shorter, take 30 or 60 minutes and knock out as many of these items at once as possible!
I find this is a great place to start on a to-do list because I immediately feel more productive, and thus motivated to keep going.
Also, if the shit hits the proverbial fan, and you get nothing done for the rest of your day after that, you can still feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Assign time blocks to larger projects
Finally, assign a dedicated block of time on your calendar to any bigger projects that require more energy and focus. Depending on the scale of this to-do, it might require several blocks.
Regardless, I want you to hold yourself accountable to that the same way you would for any other appointment.
Also, breaking it down and knowing when you’re going to tackle the various aspects of a seemingly daunting project is a great way to cut the overwhelm, and ensure you’re making steady progress!
You can do it. I believe in you 🙂
Now breathe in, breathe out, and go!