Have you ever felt paralyzed by a to-do list? The other day I opened the app where I make all my lists and froze. I added so many things to that list over the course of a week that I didn’t know where to start. Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort to figure it out and chose to watch TV instead. This has happened more times than I’d like to admit. List-making is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because my brain is always going a million miles a minute and if something is important, I write it down so I don’t lose the thought. It’s a curse because I end up with post-it notes all over my desk that eventually make it into my app. Once I have a minute to look over the list, I find myself completely overwhelmed by all the things I have to do.
Generally speaking, I’m an efficient, productive person. However, when my to-do list starts getting longer than what I can see on one screen, I feel defeated and give up. I start listening to the lie that it’s impossible to find a starting point, and I end up doing nothing. Of course, this only leads to a longer and longer list.
My impatience is also part of the problem. I see all the things on my list, and I want to check them all off at once. I’d like a clean slate, please and thank you. I then start multi-tasking which leaves everything half done and only ends up frustrating me that much more. I believe doing a little bit each day is a great way to get things accomplished, but I think I’ve been doing it all wrong. I’ve been doing little bits of several things each day, rather than taking one piece of proverbial pie and working on it until it’s gone.
Seeing my tasks organized on a page helps me find a starting point so I can focus on what needs to get done.
It got to the point where I was so overwhelmed the other day that I realized I needed a new system. In addition to being a list-maker, I’m also a very visual person. Seeing my tasks organized on a page helps me find a starting point so I can focus on what needs to get done.
I found that my schedule tended to be a bit heavier at the beginning of the week, so I left more space in my schedule later in the week for any uncompleted tasks. I think the key here was learning how much I could manage on any given day, and not getting frustrated when I couldn’t seem to get it right. It’s a process of trial and error, but little by little I’ve learned my pace and schedule.
I gained momentum by adding a few tasks to every day until I saw how much I could realistically handle. Seeing even one task accomplished gave me the mental boost needed to believe I could take control of my time and manage it well. There are days when things get thrown off course, and that’s ok. Life happens, and rarely when we want it to. Thankfully, after creating my new process I was able to find a starting point and begin to move forward.
Here’s a simple breakdown of what I wrote on a sheet of paper:
What are some of my goals? Working on my health? Putting time into a relationship? Building my business? Finding ways to relax? Folding the laundry? I wrote down as many as I could think of.
I went back through my list and circled the things that were most important to me based on which goals I wanted to move forward this month.
I took each circled item and began to break it down. What would it take to accomplish each of these tasks?
I decided which tasks I would be able to accomplish on a specific day of the week.
Once I had my sheet filled out, I transferred my daily tasks to an app I’ve been using for years called WorkFlowy. You can use any app or note-taking system you prefer, I just love WorkFlowy because I can drill down and show only one day’s worth of tasks, which makes me feel less insane. I can also drag and reorganize tasks as needed and make them disappear from my list once they’re complete. It’s helpful for me to take things from my paper list and put them in my app because let’s be honest, I end up staring at that thing for a good part of the day.
I realize this process may seem overwhelming, so I’ve created a PDF that I hope makes it easier! I will be selling this in my Etsy shop and hope it makes your list (and your life) feel a little more organized.
There is always a place to begin!
Note: I’m taking a break from blogging next week to finish up a few projects. I’ll be back January 21!