How To Manage Your To-Do List Better
Managing my time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into my day as possible. It’s about simplifying how I work, doing things faster, and relieving stress. I promise you — there really are enough hours in a day for everything you’d like to do, but it may take a bit of rearranging and re-imagining to find them.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my biggest self-sabotage is overloading my schedule. But when you want to write a blog, run a business, make money, and enjoy life all at the same time, it gets hard to figure out how to actually manage your ever growing to-do list effectively.
I used to think my to-do lists were just about fitting as much stuff into each day as possible. I was totally that girl with the overflowing day planner and four billion freaking sticky notes stuck literally everywhere. Even the cat had post-it notes on him. The problem was that I usually ended up multitasking constantly throughout the day and almost never checking off all the items on my list.
I’ve since learned that there’s an art to list making and life organizing, and there really are tricks that change the game. These tips will take you from scrambling to fit it all in to seamlessly combining careers, checking off tasks, and ending your days on a boss babe high note.
1. USE A DAY PLANNER, AND USE IT RIGHT
I’m a planner addict and I’m not sorry. Day planners are an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and anyone managing multiple ventures. Don’t expect for your brain to be able to remember everything – write that shit down. The trick to utilizing a day planner is twofold: firstly, get consistent. It takes 30 days to create a habit, so commit to using your planner everyday for the next 30 days to make it a natural part of your routine. Secondly, don’t overload your planner. Break things down into accomplishable segments so that you can check off all of your tasks each day.
2. ORGANIZE YOUR PLANNER & TO DO LIST FROM SUCKY TO SAVORY
Some people like to organize their day the night before, which is awesome. I’m a creative night owl so I’m much more focused and organized in the morning, so that’s when I sit down with my planner and to-do list and dial it all in. Doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as you do it right. Don’t just start writing down the million things that you have to do and filling up your list – there are usually going to be too many things going on in your life to accomplish it all in one day.
Start by going through your calendar (I use Google Calendar obsessively – like color coded and 37 alerts for every event) and checking for any appointments/events/etc and getting those down. After those are down, get a big piece of paper and write down every single thing you thing you need to do that day. No order, no organization – just everything you want to get to in one way or another.
Then take a look and pick your top 3 most important tasks for the day. These are the things that are time sensitive, important, and big. They should be the first things you conquer – don’t start with checking emails and getting sucked into the world of your inbox; conquer your 3 most important tasks first and get them out of the way.
Next move on to 3 tasks you really freaking hate but are pretty important. These are the things you’re most likely to procrastinate on, so get them out of the way next.
After the big stuff is out of the way, set aside a designated chunk of time to work on your passion project. Try for at least an hour of day dedicated purely to cultivating your creativity, pursuing your passions, and building the business of your dreams.
Almost at the bottom of the list is checking and responding to pertinent emails. Then finally, pick 3 – 5 sorta important tasks to put on your to-do list but that are prioritized last. For me, this usually includes mundane things like editing photos, doing my laundry, etc. Stuff that should get done but isn’t time sensitive and isn’t going to make a major impact on myself or others in the immediate future.
3. SCHEDULE ME TIME, US TIME, AND FUN TIME
Don’t make the mistake of including only business and household related items in your planner and on your to-do list. Scheduling in date nights, girls nights, spa days, gym time, and even an hour to read a book and chill the f**k out is incredibly important. I find that if I don’t write this stuff into my daily schedule, I end up spending my entire day working and being productive. Which is awesome, but also not a complete version of a life. My problem is that I love working so it’s hard for me to stop. Once I started scheduling in social stuff, alone time with my better half, barre classes, time with my horses, etc. I actually started doing those things because they’re on the schedule! Make a point to schedule in something every single day that is purely about making you feel good. Even if this is watching Game of Thrones for an hour – schedule it!
What tips/tricks do you guys have for accomplishing everything on your to-do list?