The number one question I get in my direct messages is, “How do I manage my time? I have so much to do!” Today’s blog post will answer that question with my to-do list tips to conquer time management and beat overwhelm.
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
Time Management Bootcamp
Before I get any further, I must tell you about the first-of-its kind, LIVE, 100% free Time Management Bootcamp that I am hosting this month!! Three days packed with juicy content that goes deeper than ever before into this topic of time management tips. If you haven’t seen the bottom of your sink in ages, if you’re behind in work because you are drowning in your never-ending to-do list, if you want to actually put makeup on and wash your hair for once, then sister, this bootcamp is for YOU!
I will be showing up live November 16-18, 2022, to teach my heart out and share so many more details on getting your time back so that you can finally knock out your to-do list, keep up with housework, and quit dropping the ball! Make sure you register here! I’ve got some really fun swag and door prizes (including my favorite paper planner, essential oils, and more!) that we will be giving out and there are already women over there introducing themselves and getting pumped to have a time management makeover. You’re not gonna want to miss the Time Management Bootcamp.
The Dilemma of To-Do Lists
When mamas reach out to me asking how to manage their time, the first question I ask them is, “What are you currently doing?” The answer I almost always get is “Writing a to-do list.” I get it. I love all the paper things: journals, stationery, planners, notebooks. I want all of them! It feels so good to write down all the things swimming in your brain and see it in a list form. However, we have to address the downsides of traditional paper to-do lists to give you the tools you need to rock time management and beat overwhelm.
Paper Lists Get Lost Easily and You Can’t Remember What You Wrote Where
I used to struggle with misplacing my paper lists and sticky notes very frequently, but now I have systems in place that usually helps me with that. Recently, however, I did have a problem losing a piece of paper, and I thought I would share it with you guys.
Not long ago, I received a call from our doctor’s office. They have a concierge program but were completely switching methods for providing that. The office called to give me details on the new method that I needed to pass along to a couple of people. I was caught completely off guard by their call and scribbled down the instructions in a random notebook.
I told myself that I needed to earmark the page, remember to get the information out of the notebook, and not lose it, since it was the wrong place for the information. But then I lost it! It was 100% preventable. Guys, we are living in 2022! We can create a system that is a little more sophisticated than this to streamline our lives and prevent the preventable mess ups!
Paper Lists Aren’t Shareable or Repeatable and Rewriting Lists Wastes Time
When you write a list and cross several things off and then you start a new day or week, your tendency is to rewrite the list. And then you do it again and again. Not only does this waste time, but you also run the risk of once again losing your list. Keep reading to see the to-do list tips that I have to combat this!
It Feels Good to Dump Information but It Doesn’t Help You Take Action
It feels so good to get the information out of your brain and onto paper. Doing so gives you an immediate release. But you don’t know how to act on that massive dump of information and execute your to-do list. Once you write everything out, you look at it and feel instantly overwhelmed all over again.
Then, you end up doing nothing, scrolling on your phone, or running around doing things that don’t actually move the needle forward. Pretty soon you wake up after what feels like fourteen years of writing to-do lists and you still have that project in your garage that has been waiting on you for years.
You Aren’t Sure When You Will Get to the Things on Your List
Maybe you have some good systems in place, you hustle well, and you have outside help with cleaning your home, but you still don’t really know when you’re going to get to the items on your list. You are busy being a full-time taxi driver or homeschool mom or your kids have a ton of extracurricular activities.
Or maybe you work outside of the home, meaning you have even less time to get through the to-do list. Putting a dump of information in front of you is not producing the outcome you want, is not conducive to your lifestyle, and is not the right tool.
Your Focus is Too Narrow or Too Broad
To-do lists tend to be either too narrow or too broad. You’re only writing down what you’re thinking about right now and the things that have to happen today or you’re writing down all of the things that have been on your mind for weeks, months, or years.
Go back and count how many of these mistakes really resonate with you and it will help you know which of these following tips to focus on.
“In order to systemize something, you have to organize it and identify patterns within it.”
3 To-Do List Tips to Improve Time Management
1. Write the list down, then group the tasks into categories.
Get it all out of your brain. Dump it. Then quickly take inventory: Are there any patterns here? Are there any groups that pop out at me, like house chores or school activities or business tasks? Now we’re onto the name of the game. In order to systemize something, you have to organize it and identify patterns within it.
I have some weird defect in my brain that doesn’t allow me to not see life this way. I can’t help but group things and make patterns out of them. Then I realized that these are patterns that happen in masses for women in our current culture, which is why I started the podcast and this blog. I’m trying to give you a teeny-tiny, micro, blip of a view of what I would do if I was sitting with you in your room or at your kitchen table or in your car, wherever you’re frantically writing this to-do list down. This is exactly what I would have you do first.
2. Use one designated notebook for ALL of your lists and notes.
Get one notebook and use only that one notebook for all your list making, note taking, for everything. Bonus points if its tabbed. Which, by the way, I am giving away a tabbed notebook inside the Time Management Bootcamp later this month. You’ve got to get over there!
But here’s your real challenge: write down only one list for the entire week. Do not create another one. You get one list for the whole week, so it better be good, mama!
If that makes you panic, go listen to my brain dump podcast episode. It will help you transition from the method you’re currently using to be able to have one list for the whole week.
3. Schedule time to focus on your to-do list.
Of the to-do list tips, this is the one that makes or breaks your ability to get your to-do list done! Step 3 is to schedule time to focus on the things that you just recently grouped together or your to-do list in general. If you are feeling like, “I don’t understand this grouping thing, I don’t know how to organize this,” that’s fine. Just do the work of planning time in your week to work on your to-do list
The reason why your to-do list is nagging you is because you never get it around to it. You put it on the back burner and run around putting out the fires that are currently raging around you, trying to just put out as many as you can. Then you never get back to those things that are still on the list and you are stuck on repeat.
Carve out time in your week to work on the things that are on your to-do list. Whether that is two hours three times a week, or an hour every evening after work, or for a few hours on Saturday, find a time that works best for you. If you schedule time to work on your to-do list rather than trying to accomplish it while you’re doing all the other things in your life, I bet that you would be able to show up a whole lot more effectively in all areas of life.
You’ve got this!
Why don’t you give one of these things a try or try all three if you’re feeling froggy! I am super excited to hear from you in the Facebook group about how it goes and look forward to encouraging you in your journey with more content on time management and to-do list tips in the Time Management Bootcamp! See you there, friend!
Frequently Asked Questions
My to-do list is so overwhelming. I don't know how to define what even needs to go on my to-do list! What can I do?
Girl, I see you! You can check out my Fundamental Needs workbook to distill your life down to the ultimate basics. Like I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, the live Time Management Bootcamp will also be super helpful by reducing your to-do list by 95%!