My to-do list (and planner) are my life-line to being organized and achieving my goals. Which I’m doing (yay!). But sometimes that to-do list gets a little overwhelming. That’s when I need to take a step back. Reassess. And run through the tips below. By asking myself some serious questions- and taking the time to answer them- I cut my to-do list down to manageable size.
First, before you even look at the to-do list, ask yourself: what are your priorities? What is actually important in your life? Take a few minutes to really think about it. Your family? A specific relationship? Your work? Your relationship with God? A clean house? A specific extracurricular activity you devote time to?
If you’re having trouble figuring out your priorities, this is completely normal. Check out my post “Finding Your Way: Guide to Focusing on the Important Things.” I try to do a “priority re-set” every six months or so. Just to make sure that all that extra stuff hasn’t taken over the important things.
Ask yourself: What are my current big goals in life?
If you’re not sure what your goals are- or where you even want to be- check out my free 2018 Planner. In the planner, there is a section on setting goals. The instructions and worksheets can also help you decide what your priorities are. Or help you determine concrete steps to take to reach said goals.
Ask yourself: How important is this task to my priorities and big goals?
Now, it’s time to actually look at your list. Look at each task and prioritize it. You can put an “A, B, or C” next to each items or number them “1, 2, 3, 4” based on importance.
What is the one thing on this list that will make everything else easier?
If there are one or two things that would make everything else easier, focus on those first! For example, keeping my planner organized makes everything else in my life easier. So organizing my planner is actually on the top of my to-do list each week.
Ask yourself: if I didn’t do this task, what would happen?
I want you to look at all of the tasks, but pay particular attention to those on the second and third level of importance. What is going to happen if this doesn’t get done? Does it really need done? If it’s not important, cross it off or move it to next week.
For example, mopping the floor was on my list for this week. But I don’t have time. I moved it to next week. The world isn’t ending if the floor goes without being mopped. Organizing some old magazines was also on my list. I dumped the magazines in the trash and crossed the item off. It didn’t make a bit of difference to my world except my list was shorter.
If you can delegate the task, do so. Can someone else at work help out? Can your family help with some of the stuff that needs done around the house? Giving your kids tasks not only helps them learn life skills, but can make your life easier.
When doing a task, take a moment and ask yourself “Is this done enough?” This is a big one for me. Not everything needs to be done perfectly. Some things just need done. So as you do tasks, call it good before the perfection stage.
Look at your commitments. Are there any that can be cut?
I have a tendency to over-commit. If someone asked “can you do this?”, my automatic response is “Sure! No problem! I’ll not only do it, I’ll do it so well, you’ll be impressed.”
This has been a problem. I now severely limit my extracirricular activities. Because they have a tendency to spread. Probably because I do such a good job…haha. For example, I volunteered at a homeless shelter. I started out just taking a few shifts here and there. Then I completely re-organized the clothing closet. And started taking more shifts. And then they asked me to develop- from scratch- an entire training plan for new volunteers. I was actually a bit relieved when we moved out of state. It wasn’t there fault…it was mine. I just couldn’t say ‘no.’ So learn to say ‘no.’
Look at your family’s commitments. Especially your kid’s extra activities. They don’t need to be busy every single day. In fact, a study just came out showing that free play is good for them! (No surprise there).
If you can’t cut their activities, find ways to multi-task. Listen to podcasts in the car. Work on work, sort e-mail, etc. while you’re waiting in the bleachers.
There you have it! 9 quick tips on how to cut down your to-do list. Feel free to share your tips below!