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Transforming To-Do Lists: 8 Tasks To Eliminate For A Streamlined Life


April 4, 2024

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So, you’re wondering how to cut down your seemingly endless to-do list? There are countless ideas, methods, and systems to explore for minimizing that daunting list of tasks. However, today, I’m here to share with you eight specific things that you should indefinitely remove from your to-do list.

How do we effectively eliminate tasks from our to-do list? The key strategy is automation—absolute, unrelenting automation. But what does that entail? There are numerous tasks we jot down that will inevitably occur, regardless of whether we note them down. I’m here to dive deep into how you can turn this concept into reality. How can you automate your to-do list? How do we rejuvenate the tool that many of us live and breathe by? Today, we’re going to add a dash of ‘happy juice’ to our to-do lists, making them a bit more manageable.

Listen Below For The Entire Episode On The Systemize Your Life Podcast

Rethinking To-Do Lists: Embracing New Habits For Lighter Living

I want to gently introduce you to this topic. Do you feel that organization seems elusive, you’re drowning in tasks, and productivity and focus are just out of reach? Are you yearning to feel a sense of accomplishment at the close of each day and week? Are you seeking a way to make it all feel lighter and more manageable? Than this blog post is crafted for you. I invite you to ponder, “What would it look like for me to approach my entrenched habits and routines from a new angle?”

Breaking habits is undeniably challenging. As my dad often remarks, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” While we may not express it in those exact terms, the essence remains that we aspire to be open-minded and embrace new methodologies. However, this becomes increasingly difficult when we’re struggling to stay afloat. The idea of pausing, even briefly, to reconsider and potentially revise our established routines seems daunting. Often, it feels as though we’re operating at full capacity merely to maintain our current pace. Engulfed in a day filled with extinguishing fires, the thought of what might happen if we were to slow down is almost too much to bear.

Escaping The Weeds: How To-Do Lists And Systems Can Prevent Overwhelm

I’ll be completely honest with you: viewing things from that overwhelmed perspective is quite backward, but I get it. I truly understand what it feels like to be deep in the weeds. The first time I came across that expression was during my college years while juggling three jobs. One of which was waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse. I worked there every weekend, covering Friday and Saturday nights, plus Sunday brunches. That’s where I learned the real meaning of “being in the weeds.” The protocol was clear: if you found yourself overwhelmed, you simply had to shout “in the weeds,” and someone who wasn’t as swamped would come to your aid.

This concept of “being in the weeds” is something I carry with me to this day. I make a concerted effort to prevent myself and my family from getting overwhelmed by meticulously applying systems. However, when we do find ourselves in those chaotic moments, it’s common to struggle with reaching out for help. Many moms aren’t sure whom to ask for assistance, and often, their kids and partners are unsure how to be of aid. A sentiment I frequently encounter is, “it’s just easier if I do it myself.” This mindset, while understandable, can perpetuate the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and isolated in managing the load.

Breaking The Cycle: Transforming To-Do Lists For A More Efficient Life

Finding yourself in a cycle where change seems impossible leads to a repetitive, frustrating effort—like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. You know it doesn’t work, yet you persist, driven by the belief that there are no alternatives. But today, I’m here to tell you that there are other options. There’s a different way to approach your to-do list. It’s a perspective that can introduce ease and efficiency into your life, breaking the cycle of relentless struggle.

This approach is something I’ve been practicing for about six years, though the underlying concept has been a part of my life for even longer. When we consider it in the context of being a mom, a wife, a homemaker, and possibly holding down a job, than this is for you. Or, if we step outside the box for a moment, even if you’re a college student or don’t fit into these categories but find yourself overwhelmed by busyness, the strategies I’m about to share will prove incredibly effective for you too. 

Now, let’s explore eight specific items you can confidently remove from your to-do list. But it’s crucial to recognize that within these eight areas lie countless other tasks that could also be eliminated. If you’re currently staring down a to-do list with, say, 25 items, you’ll likely find many of them fit within these broader categories or “buckets” I’m about to detail. While some suggestions will be quite specific, others may be more general. So, how about we dive into these and discuss them further?

“There’s a different way to approach your to-do list, a perspective that can introduce ease and efficiency into your life, breaking the cycle of relentless struggle.”

The First Thing To Remove From Your To-Do List: Groceries

The first item I urge you to eliminate from your to-do list might surprise you. This realization often leads to the question, “If I remove it from my list, how will it ever get done?” This query is part of a larger discussion about the systems and automations we can put in place. It’s designed to spark your curiosity about what life could be like if you weren’t entirely dependent on your to-do list. What if you had mechanisms and structures working to simplify your responsibilities?

The first task you’re going to remove from your list is your grocery order or the trip to the grocery store. Visiting the grocery store and placing a grocery order should not occupy space on your to-do list. Instead, these tasks should have a specific, designated time in your routine. It’s clear we need to do grocery shopping, and you’re already aware it’s a weekly necessity. By assigning it a fixed slot in your schedule, you free up mental space and streamline your to-do list.

The Second To-Do List Drop: Cleaning

For the second item, any household cleaning tasks should not appear on your to-do list. If you find yourself so inundated with tasks that you’re noting down chores like doing the laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming, or cleaning the toilets, it’s a clear sign contributing to your feeling of overwhelm. Listing out these minute, recurring tasks is effectively cluttering your mind with micro-tasks, which can be daunting and add unnecessary stress to anyone’s mental load.

Getting Rid Of The Third Category: Grocery List

The third item to eliminate from your to-do list is your grocery list—specifically, the act of jotting it down on random scraps of paper. Of course, if you’re someone who enjoys meal planning with pen and paper, that’s wonderful. However, your to-do list should not be burdened with reminders like needing to visit the grocery store, plan your meals, or list what you need to buy for those meals. These activities should be part of a consistent weekly routine, governed by a system you’ve established for meal planning. It shouldn’t be just another task among many, adding to the mental load of “things I must do.”

Dropping The Fourth Category From Your To-Do List: Working Out

Number four on the list is working out. You might be thinking, “Are you kidding me? Working out doesn’t belong on my to-do list.” But, isn’t it often there in some form, like a reminder that you need to hit the gym or complete a specific workout? Removing this from your to-do list and integrating it into your life as a routine expectation can be incredibly liberating. It transitions from being a task you need to remember to do, to a regular part of your daily or weekly routine, thus reducing the mental burden of having to schedule it in among other tasks.

It often seems like a mystery, doesn’t it? Reflecting on our daily activities and wondering how certain tasks consistently find their way onto our to-do lists. What I aim for is a life where the to-do list reflects the essentials, the tasks that truly need to be accomplished because they align with what we genuinely want to be doing. There are countless effective strategies for you to take control, ensuring that your schedule, family obligations, household clutter, and the myriad of other responsibilities don’t dictate your life. This shift in perspective from being task-driven by a to-do list to being purpose-driven by what’s essential can transform how you manage your daily life.

The Fifth Drop Off: Work

Number five is work-related tasks. Whether you’re running a business or working from home, these tasks shouldn’t find their way onto your general to-do list. If you’re listing them as part of a brain-dumping process to organize your thoughts, that’s a solid starting point. However, these tasks should be distinct from your personal to-dos. The to-do list that currently seems like a colossal, all-encompassing swirl of tasks in your mind should not include work-related items. They ought to be segregated, kept in a completely separate space. This separation ensures that personal and professional responsibilities don’t become entangled, allowing for clearer focus and management of each aspect of your life.

When you sit down, thinking, “Okay, writing a list will help me feel better,” and then you observe that your list encompasses personal, home, marriage, kid, and work tasks all jumbled together, it’s a clear signal that separating these tasks should be your starting point or the first habit to change. Extracting work-related tasks from this mix and placing them on a distinct list or in a separate system is an immediate step you can take to simplify your to-do list. This separation not only helps in organizing your tasks more effectively but also in mentally compartmentalizing your responsibilities, making it the easiest and most impactful change to implement for a clearer, more focused approach to handling both your personal and professional obligations.

The Sixth Category To Leave Your To-Do List: Home Maintenance

Number six is a favorite of mine, and I’m going to get very specific with it: changing air filters, replacing light bulbs, watering plants. Essentially, the overarching theme is that any home maintenance tasks should not be on your to-do list. This probably doesn’t come as a shock—you already know these tasks need attention, and you’re aware of how frequently they should be done. It shouldn’t come down to a reminder of, “Oh, I need to handle this.” Of course, these are ongoing responsibilities; they recur regularly. So, let’s simplify our lives by acknowledging their necessity without allowing them to clutter our to-do lists, recognizing that these tasks are a given rather than exceptions.

One of the greatest insights I can share with you is the importance of truly understanding your life. This is where I excel; I’m inherently analytical. Dissecting processes, crafting systems, appreciating clean lines, following formulas—this is my domain. I revel in the certainty that two plus two equals four. Puzzles captivate me; their complexity and the satisfaction of solving them fill me with joy. My passion for efficiency is deep-seated; it’s a fundamental part of who I am. This fascination necessitates a keen eye for patterns, a lens through which I cannot help but view the world. It energizes me, though I’m aware that my intense love for efficiency and recognizing patterns might make me a challenging person to live with at times.

Gratitude For All God Has Done

Reflecting on home maintenance, it’s clear that it often falls to the wayside for many, perennially relegated to the backburner. My own journey with homeownership has profoundly shaped my views on this. Having spent nearly all my adult life in rentals, it wasn’t until I was almost 40 years old that I transitioned to owning a home. This was a milestone I had long yearned for, often finding myself in prayer, promising, “Lord, if I am blessed with a house, I will cherish and maintain it like nothing else in my life.” Now, owning a home fills me with immense gratitude, a sentiment amplified by my systematic nature and love for order. This gratitude, coupled with my penchant for systems, informs my approach to maintaining my home meticulously.

We’ve taken proactive steps like putting air filters on autoship, ensuring that their arrival is our cue to change them. This methodical approach extends to other aspects of home maintenance, allowing us to manage these tasks on our terms. Admittedly, I might not always water my plants precisely when I’m supposed to—I don’t have a system for that. However, these tasks never find their way onto my to-do list. Being constantly at home, I find joy in tending to my plants, responding to their needs when they signal for water through the dulled vibrancy of their leaves. This intuitive care for my plants, much like our structured approach to other maintenance tasks, is part of the harmonious balance we’ve cultivated in managing our home.

Drop Your Finances Off Your To-Do List

Number seven encompasses all things related to finances. Just like the items mentioned before, tasks related to managing your finances should not populate your to-do list. Recently, I shared some reflections via email, which included personal insights from my vacation and a challenging situation we encountered—online theft. This incident inevitably added numerous tasks to my to-do list, tasks that were urgent and unexpected. Such emergencies, which demand immediate attention and disrupt our routine, are the types of financial matters that warrant a spot on your to-do list. These are the curveballs that, while we hope to avoid, sometimes catch us off guard and necessitate immediate action.

I aspire for your to-do list to possess the capacity and bandwidth to manage unexpected curveballs. It’s crucial that it isn’t so overloaded that you find yourself continually postponing tasks. Among these, paying bills stands out as a task that certainly shouldn’t clutter your list. In this day and age, virtually every company, from local entities to international ones, offers an autopay option. The reality is, setting up such conveniences can be accomplished swiftly, often in as little as 30 minutes, freeing you from the unnecessary burden of manually managing this task. Let’s embrace the tools and systems available to us, ensuring our to-do lists are reserved for items that truly require our direct attention and action.

The Eighth Thing To Drop Off Your To-Do List: Home Supplies

Lastly, we’ll delve into the realm of home supplies, which echoes the theme of home maintenance mentioned in point six but focuses more on consumables like toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, and other similar items. For many, acquiring these essentials occurs during routine grocery shopping. However, for those like me, who prefer shopping at specialty stores such as natural grocers, these items constitute an additional consideration. Although these stores do carry a selection of such goods, managing the replenishment of these everyday necessities demands a separate system or routine to ensure you’re always stocked up, without cluttering your to-do list with these predictable, recurring purchases.

Additionally, I take a hands-on approach by creating many of my home supplies. This means I must ensure I’m stocked with baking soda, Castile soap, essential oils, and other necessary ingredients, which I purchase in bulk. This strategy reduces the frequency of replenishment but doesn’t eliminate the need for periodic inventory checks. Regardless of whether these tasks are frequent or rare, it’s vital to establish a clear understanding of the replenishment schedule. For instance, if I discover that I run out of supplies every six months, I need to adopt a system that acknowledges this pattern. Such a system ensures I’m not caught off guard, allowing me to be fully prepared with dishwasher pods, toilet bowl cleaner, and other essentials, thereby removing the burden from my mind and ensuring I’m always ready.

Maximizing Productivity: How Systematizing To-Do Lists Enhances Your Life

A little effort in systematizing your life goes a long way. Once you begin to explore this approach, you’ll quickly realize its efficiency benefits. Many people often wonder, “How do you manage to get so much done? It seems like you’re accomplishing a lot.” And the truth is, I am. But the secret lies in making tasks easier for myself through systematic organization and automation. Systems are powerful because they enable you to automate various aspects of your life, transforming seemingly complex chores into straightforward, manageable activities. This approach not only boosts your efficiency but also significantly reduces the mental load, making it appear as though you’re achieving more with less effort.

Each of the eight items I’ve detailed should unequivocally be removed from your to-do list. It’s time to cease the practice of noting them down as individual tasks and instead, start integrating them systematically into your life. There exists a more efficient way to manage your daily responsibilities—a method that accommodates the multitude of people and tasks you oversee. By implementing just one simple, yet effective system, you can significantly enhance productivity for yourself and within your household. This is the essence of utilizing your time with purpose and intention, transforming everyday routines into a seamlessly managed lifestyle.

As you start this journey, I’m excited to hear your experiences and insights. Share them within our vibrant Facebook community or come over and visit me on Instagram. And remember that we would LOVE to see you inside of Systemize Your Life as a VIP student!

Until next time….


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