Many of us write to-do lists. We jot down all the things we need to do and try to get through it all. What if I told you that there is a way to make better to-do lists? Find out how a to-do list can help you when you’re overwhelmed and get the free to-do list printable.
E-mails start piling up, projects standstill, and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with Oreos and Netflix. I get it. I do. I’ve been there on the couch with my double-stuffed Oreos.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed during a busy season — at times it can be paralyzing. Trying to figure out just where to start causes major anxiety even for the organized, type-A person.
Usually, I hit these kinds of productivity walls after a life transition. Recently, it’s been our busy back-to-school season that has sent me into a tailspin. I felt paralyzed, my to-do list was pages long, and I didn’t know where on earth to start. Eventually, I got through it. I survived. But how?
Looking back, I can see several changes that I made to get through my productivity slump.
How to Simplify Your To-Do List
For a while, I went back to using one simple notebook. I put away my beloved planners, grabbed a 3-subject notebook, and started writing. I had one very long to-do list and several pages of “brain-dump” (or mind-sweep). I was able to get all of the tasks and projects out of my head and work them out on paper. Once I had everything written out I could process through each item and prioritize or delegate. This is my #1 go-to process when things get a bit crazy. It’s amazing how this simple change can really help me get my focus back.
1. Simplify Your Schedule
I did not say YES to very much. We limited events, entertaining, and stayed home more than ever. Maybe I came across as anti-social, but I just didn’t have room for everything. I think it’s okay to have seasons where you pull back a little. The over-stretched elastic of your life takes time to shrink back to normal. There’s no need to feel guilty in these seasons either. Your true friends will understand and support your decision to adjust the space around you to be a little smaller and healthier.
2. Simplify Your Goals
I set 9 goals each morning. I know, I know… most people say set 3 priorities or 3 Most Important Tasks. I do 9 and here’s why:
- 3 goals for work (projects, emails, marketing etc. )
- 3 goals for homemaking (chores, cooking, errands, etc.)
- 3 goals for our family (simple ideas to remind me to be a blessing and not a cranky…well you know! …to my family)
3. Set Up Time Blocking
Time Blocking is the practice of creating structure in your day for different types of tasks. It is a method that encourages focus by eliminating distractions, helping you get more done.
Photo Credit: @Jessica.Anos
There are many ways to create a time blocking schedule but I use a 2 step process to create a schedule that works for me:
1. Give each day a focus.
First, I look over everything I’m doing each week and block out time in my week for each thing. Sunday nights – grocery shopping. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings – focused client work time. Wednesday – family and home.
2. Give your daily schedule time blocks
Then, I focus on each day. Here’s what my Mondays look like:
- 8am-2pm – Client work.
- 2-3pm – Blog work or running errands
- 3-5pm – Focus on the kids and preparing dinner.
- 6-8pm – Dinner and bedtime for the kids.
- 8-11pm – “Me time” or “us time” – Kevin and I relax, watch some Netflix, or discuss the latest funny videos we saw on Facebook (real life people, real life!).
Find out more about Time Blocking and get your own time blocking template here.
This is not a science or a strict rule. Having a daily schedule gives my days structure so I don’t get off track.
Doing this frees me from feeling like I have to constantly multi-task. By simplifying my to-do list and structuring my time through time-blocking, I give myself permission to focus on just one thing at a time.
It takes a little time to reorient your life around simplicity, but I promise, your productivity will go through the roof when you do!