Tame Your To-Do List


Welcome to Day 7 of 31 Days of Mom Mojo – Tackling Time Management.

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.    Michelle Obama 

Is your to-do list too long every day?

Or have you simply given up trying to keep a current to-do list.

Don’t give up; get your to-do list under control to so you can feel at ease and become more successful at completing those tasks!

To begin, you need to understand that a to-do list is a “hot list” not a planning pad, wish list or long term idea starter.  I use to put all kinds of things on my list, since I didn’t really have a system in place to keep thins organized.  It was crazy! Your to-do list is for tasks that must be accomplished in 48 hours or less. For anything further ahead, use advance planning list or add the items to your Weekly Household Planner for the appropriate due date.  I love that I can add tasks further ahead in my Weekly Household Planner.  If I know next week I need to bake cookies for my child’s class, I can jot down that note on the day before I need them because my list is already there.  This is one advantage or printing out the entire year and binding it together.

Here is an idea for tackling that to-do list which might ease your mind and reduce your stress!  Remember in yesterday’s post I shared that it can be overwhelming if you let those ideas stay floating in your head rather than getting them out?

Start by writing down every task you need to complete on individual index cards. Arrange the cards in three piles:

Must Do

Need to Do

Want to Do.

The “Must Do” pile is the tasks that have to be completed in 24 hours.

Take any “Must Do” items that could wait an extra day and place them on the next day’s to-do list. These are what some time management systems call the “A” level tasks.

Next sort the “Need to Do” or “B” level tasks. These are important to do in the next day or two but not as imperative as showing up for a presentation or catching a plane.

Finally, deal with the “Want to Do” or “C” level tasks that could be done any time in the next several days.  Some time management systems suggest that you toss out the “C” tasks or add them to a “Someday” list for when you have extra time.  You could keep these in a place where you can locate them, but they aren’t kept with the rest of the pile, if you know they are there, it will still tend to create a bit of anxiety and stress.

If you do not believe you can do it then you have no chance at all.   Arsene Wenger

Lower Your Expectations 

How many items can you manage on a daily to-do list?

There will be a lot of variables in that answer and it will not be the same for everyone.  Depending on your work situation, size of family and other responsibilities it could be only a few items outside the normal maintenance items.  Be realistic.  Often times we just expect too much out of our day and over-schedule because we think we should be able to do it all.

Take the word ‘should’ out of your vocabulary.  It is useless except for creating guilt!

Examine your tasks to determine whether each item is a one step process or multi-step process.  With complex tasks, you may only be able to reasonably complete 3 or 4 “Must Do” items in a day.

You can create a paper to-do list or one on your computer, just as long as it’s easily accessible during the day. When an item is done, cross it off, make a check mark beside it or in some way be able to see what’s done from what needs to be done.  If you are using a card system, rip that sucker up and toss it out!

If you use an electronic to-do list, you can add color background for each level. The advantage of color-coding items is that you can quickly see how many yellow highlighted Must Do items are left compared with the green highlighted Need to Do items.

At the end of the day, transfer any remaining important items to the proper category on the next day’s to-do list. When you finish the day and see most or all of the “Must Do” items finished and crossed off your list, it’s a great sense of relief and motivation to keep you pushing forward!

Tomorrow I will share another technique to help relieve your list.

Have you been unrealistic with your to-do list?

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