Often, as moms, we can feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. There’s our stuff, our kids’ stuff, and sometimes ‘stuff’ for our partners, parents, friends, work, and more.
Even with the best, most thorough to-do lists in the world, we can quickly feel like all this ‘stuff’ is just too much.
So, what to do?
We can’t stop doing all this stuff because then it won’t get done, right? Well, that’s often not true. Yet, if we are spending all our time worrying whether someone else will get it done, then we haven’t lessened our burden, have we?
Therefore, for our purposes here, we are going to talk about how to stop feeling overwhelmed every day with “too much to do” and start getting things done!
Here are 3 ways make a better to-do list that will help you be more efficient and effective with your tasks and objectives, quickly and easily:
1) Set deadlines for the big items on your to-do-list.
A to-do list is great, but it’s not helpful by itself, for big tasks or projects. A to-do list without deadlines – or a schedule of some sorts – isn’t much different than a wish list.
Thus, a great first step for mastering your to-do list is adding completion dates for the larger items or tasks. Although you should be sure to build-in time for interruptions (because they will happen), adding these completion dates helps to ensure you stay on task and reduces procrastination.
2) When creating your to-do-list, work in reverse to address tasks or responsibilities that can’t have a deadline or aren’t ever “done.”
Often, we struggle with how to set deadlines for the things on our to-do-list that can’t be “checked off” as “done.” Have you ever heard the expression that says work will expand to fill the time it’s given?
Well, this is true. Think about it—many things we do, don’t always have a clear completion point. For these items, we don’t really know “how long they should take.” However, if we set no daily time limit or deadline of sorts, we may find they consume a (too) large percentage of our time.
To combat this, start your to-do-list at the end of whatever time you have deemed your day will end and work backward. Pick the time you will stop working on things and then block off the hours leading up to that point to work on things that need to get done. If tasks can’t get finished in their ‘block,’ then block off some time for those items the next day and so on, until they are complete—or indefinitely, if the items are things that are ongoing such as reading with the kids, house cleaning, laundry, etc.
3) At the end of the day, cross off items that were completed. Use this information to maximize your to-do list for the future.
To have the most effective to-do list, it must work for you—making YOU more efficient and effective. The only way to do this is to use what you have done. This begins by checking off items when complete and monitoring how long they actually took you to finish. Then, you use this information to evaluate whether you were or weren’t using your time well and if not, why?
Did you underestimate the time things would take you? Did you procrastinate? Or did you frequently interrupt your schedule with unplanned activities? If you find you’re consistently not meeting your deadlines and timetable – or not getting things done in the time you planned even though working diligently – then you may need to reconsider your behavior.
What does that mean? It means you may need to learn to say, “No,” more often. You might find you should even turn down duties or responsibilities that consistently throw your to-do list off or prevent you from completing – or addressing – primary tasks.
Of course, there is no such thing as “maximum efficiency.” Yet, these tips, tactics, and strategies should help you become more efficient, one to-do list at a time.