Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was great. I know they’re never long enough and and if you’re living that Boss Mom life, what are weekends anyway? I also hope you’re ready for a fantastic and productive week and hopefully this post can help a little with that. This week, I wanted to pick back up on my Getting Things Done series (if you haven’t read part 1, make sure you go back and read that). In the first post I talked about themed days and how busy women juggling multiple projects, jobs, and kids can use this technique to stay focused and get things done. Today, I want to discuss how doing something that actually seems less productive is the number one way I’ve been able increase my productivity. I make a shorter to do list. Mind. Blown.
So let’s face it. On a daily basis there are a LOT of things to do. We’re moms, bosses, wives, volunteers, students, employees, side hustlers, and a multitude of other titles depending on the day. So trust me when I say that I really do understand the urge to write full page to do lists because I mean…things gotta get done. But hear me out. I’m speaking from personal experience when I say that, the longer the to do list, the higher the chance that I will do absolutely nothing on it. Judge if you must, but I know I’m not alone. Every night I would sit down with my planner and plan this super ambitious next day with a task list that looked like a novel. I was going to write a blog post, send a proposal, update my Linkedin, email a teacher about a story for the newsletter, schedule my social media, clean the kitchen, mail a package, make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, do a load of laundry…I think y’all get picture. The next glorious morning would arrive, I’d take one look at that list and my anxiety would instantly takeover. This. Too. Much.
But you know what really sucked? Sitting back down at the end of each day and seeing how bad I epically failed. Yes, I know that’s not what happened at all. My kids are happy, healthy, fed, and clean (that last one open to interpretation) but do you know how mentally defeating it is to see an incomplete to do list everyday? It’s exhausting and discouraging. And it definitely doesn’t leave me feeling motivated when I create an equally ambitious and long list for the next day. It’s almost like I start mindlessly creating lists that I know aren’t going to get done…and rinse, cycle, repeat. It got to a point where I found like 20 pages of my planner just all unchecked and unfinished and it was just like girl…enough.
In order to change this horrible habit, I knew I first needed to understand why I couldn’t do the things on my epic to do lists. I paid attention to my actions and thoughts one day and learned that 1) The sight of the long list honestly just made me anxious and attempting anything in that state is a solid nope. 2) I couldn’t prioritize these super long lists which 3) Left me feeling scattered and all over the place. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed and not getting done as much as I needed to. So, I decided to just put 3 things on my list to do. And that’s it. The result? I accomplished everything on my list and then some that day.
Ever since that day I’ve been making a real effort to keep my written to do lists short, simple, and to the point and it’s been working. Here’s what my list looked like Friday:
- Write blog post for Styled Her Life.
- Update income and expenses for this week.
- Outline newsletter for kids school
What did I get done? This blog post, updated income and expenses for the week as well as a plugged in a few things for next week I knew ahead of time, and completed the newsletter. I also did the normal things that I already know I have to do on a daily basis like straightened up for 15 minutes after dinner, washed a load of clothes, cleared out a few emails, and taught Man Man’s preschool lesson for the day.
There’s a few reasons why I think this three task to do list has been so helpful to me and my productivity.
First, in the wonderful, beautifully, chaotic place that is my mind, when I think about accomplishing three things a day, that seems feasible, realistic, possible. Anyone can do three things a day right? Even a super busy, easily overwhelmed, mom like myself. By becoming comfortable with the idea that if I can just accomplish three things a day that’s not only okay, but a success, I’m able to approach the day with more confidence and energy. All I gotta do are these three things? No big deal. Next, by putting just three things on my list each day, I’m lowkey helping myself prioritize better which has always been an area I’ve struggled with. It’s easy to think everything is equally important all the time but the reality is, it’s not. Of course I “know” I don’t have endless time to work, play, or do anything else but seeing on paper that you only have three spots each day will help you put things in perspective real quick. And finally, removing tasks off my daily to do list that are a part of my everyday life has helped with the sheer anxiety of looking at a massive to do list. I have three boys and an athletic husband, I have to wash a load of clothes everyday. There’s no need for me to put that on my list. I know this has to be done, instead, I’m working on incorporating things like that into my daily routine. Not only so I get into the habit of doing them but so I can ease myself of wasting valuable energy and time thinking about doing it and how that will affect my day.
When thinking about your to do list for tomorrow (or today if you have yet to get started) try writing down just three things. Give yourself the permission to let everything else wait until tomorrow and just get three things done today. And then try it again the next day. Make sure to drop me a comment and let me know how it works for you and stay tuned for the next part of the series ;).
*Photo via CreateHerStock.com <3