Does your to do list seem never ending? Is life admin the bain or your life? As a busy mum, it can feel like your to do list multiplies faster than the germs your child brings back from school. I know how totally overwhelming it can feel when you are sitting there, looking at a mountain of action points which seem to spill into every area of your life no matter how many mum hacks you enlist to try and simplify things. If you’re dying to get on top of your to do list, then I’ve teamed up with Caroline Guillemain-Brunne, founder of Organise.Curate.Design. – to share her top tips for taking control of yours.
When faced with a long to do list, how can we make it seem less overwhelming?
Part of reducing the stress when it comes to what feels like a never ending to do list is to break it down. Thinking of the areas of your life as categories is the best way to get started. This can be done is a few different ways.
In my household lists are set up for each family member to ensure all individual needs are met. When information is thrown at me, as it often is being the super organised one of my family if I can’t action the task within 5 minutes I’ll add it to the relevant list and if necessary I’ll add a due date to it. I personally prefer to utilise electronic lists, which help when things come up when I am on the run but a paper list can serve the same purpose.
Prioritising your list is also necessary to reducing your overwhelm I use the four quadrants of time management and assess:
Is it important and urgent? (Q1)
Is it important and not urgent? (Q2)
Is it not important but urgent? (Q3)
Is it not important and also not urgent? (Q4)
Having this mindset when it comes to tasks and prioritising based on this process may help you use your time wisely and ensure important items are not missed.
Do we really need to do all those things on our to do list?
In short, no. We often have way too many things on our to do list and the mental overload occurs for a range of reasons. We may not be prioritising the things on our list and may be using up our precious hours procrastinating on the not important and not urgent items.
What about all those shoulds?
Who made up the dreaded ‘shoulds’? Are they the list of things that someone else has imposed on you? Or worst yet, unrealistic things you’ve imposed on yourself? A great way to shake the curse of the ‘shoulds’ is to tune in to your personal values.
If structure and order is a value that is important to you, then yes spend those extra moments tidying up your home as it genuinely is important to you. But if flexibility and the freedom to be creative hold more weight than structure and order then it may be time to stop worrying about the ‘shoulds’ and to live a fulfilled life aligned to your values.
Should we be thinking in terms of weeks or days?
Both, which is where the prioritising comes in handy. The reality is, your to do list will be never ending which is better than the alternative, having a life with nothing to do. If you think of your to do list as a list for everything instead of just the things your feel are a chore then it will help you to change your mindset when working on each task.
Booking in a massage, or your next holiday are to do list items and will need to be prioritised in the same way as picking up your dry cleaning, the key is setting a timeline for each task so nothing is missed.
Can you talk us through the right way to create a to do list?
Firstly, decide on your list style, electronic or hard copy and ensure you can have your lists with you the majority of the day. Next, think of all of your categories. This can be for members of the family, pets, household items, business items and errands. The biggest tip is to have a outsource list where things can be transferred to.
If you find there is a task, from any category that keeps being pushed to bottom of the list or that you keep missing the deadline then you need to re-think that task. Is it a not important not urgent task that needs to be dropped off the list all together, or is it something you need to outsource to someone else?
For example, if you keep putting off mowing your lawn, though you schedule it in every Saturday afternoon it may be time to find someone to action that task for you.
What are you five top to do list hacking tips?
- Move your list to something electronic. Most smartphones have apps that can help you note down your tasks that can send you reminders and sync with your calendar.
- Reduce your mental load and write it down. Don’t assume you’ll remember, write it down anyway.
- Will power is important. You need to want to get it done so try to stay consistent.
- If you really don’t want to get the task done, or don’t have the skills or time to action the task then outsource it.
- For tasks you don’t enjoy but have to do yourself, set yourself a reward to incentivise yourself. If you hate washing the dishes but love your morning coffee set yourself the challenge of only having a coffee once the dishes are done.
If you had to give a pep talk to my readers who are drowning in their never-ending to do lists right now it would be:
You’re not alone. To do list are a big part of successful adulting. Think about how boring life would be if you had nothing to do, at first it would be great but eventually you’d go stir crazy and start doing other peoples tasks.
Remember you are human and some days are going to be better than others. Be kind to yourself, do what you can with the skills and resources you have and be sure to ask for help and outsource when you can. Remember the people around you are not mind readers so speak up if you feel like you are drowning.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Remember to prioritise, getting rid of the Q4 time wasting tasks will be the first step towards feeling a little lighter when it comes to your to do list. And of course, if you get really stuck get yourself a Life Assistant!
Do you struggle with getting on top of your to do list? What do you think of the tips above? Do share in a comment below. And if you enjoyed this post why not check out