Do you write out a to-do list and put it in your purse, or lay it on the counter, or even go the extra mile to paste it on the fridge so you can see it? But then it gets lost, or you forget about it and you make another to-do list, then the cycle continues?
Or perhaps you’ve become skilled at managing your to-do list, but it keeps expanding, or your day becomes so chaotic that accomplishing tasks on the list becomes challenging. I have specific reasons for not recommending to-do lists as an effective way to complete tasks. In fact, I got rid of my own to-do list! Continue reading to discover my preferred alternative for tracking and actually completing necessary tasks.
Listen to the full episode here:
Unleashing the Potential of Well-Organized Routines
I talk about to-do lists all the time because that is what a lot of you use. But have you noticed that not once have I actually told you to make a to-do list? I mention them because most people follow this approach. They write down everything they need to do on a piece of paper and create a list, but they often struggle to effectively use it to accomplish their tasks. The ineffectiveness of to-do lists is the reason behind this.
So guess what? I have an out for you. It is not your fault that you never complete everything on your to-do list or complete it in a timely fashion without feeling that chaos has ensued. It is the system’s fault. I know there are some of you out there saying oh but I love my to-do lists. There is something cathartic about crossing off a task as I get it completed. I get it. I thought that at one point. Then I saw all of the downsides to a to-do list and I found a better way.
This system will grant you the ability to create a list and cross things off. Don’t panic! You still have that option. But this system is much more organized and it is functional. It is so much better than a to-do list.
Navigating the Chaos: Transforming Overwhelm into Organized Efficiency
Often looking at a to-do list will get a person so overwhelmed. They don’t know where to start. All they see is a long list of tasks they must complete, and they experience the pressure to finish them immediately, often on their own. By the end of the day, all they feel is discouragement due to the numerous remaining tasks, including some important ones that probably should have been tackled that day. Let’s explore how we can address this issue.
You may ask why I tossed the to-do list and where did this even stem from? Well, I was so frustrated with my to-do list. I would write it and shove it in the diaper bag, put it in the desk or loose it and then create a new one. If I didn’t lose it, then I would still have two to three lists. This was due to me thinking of another thing that needed done and I would start another list because I couldn’t access my other list. I eventually got smarter about it and I started doing my to-list on my phone but it still posed other problems. Once I started doing it on my phone, I had this running list going that NEVER seemed to end.
Mastering Prioritization: Why a To-Do List Alone May Not Be Enough
I didn’t always get overwhelmed by my to-do lists but I had a larger family, I had more things to do, and had more responsibilities. So, I would just stare at my phone. At this LONG, LONG list and then I would end up looking for the quickest task to do first. That’s fine when you got a little behind and you’re trying to catch back up. Tackling a few small things to get them out of the way is one way to get caught up quicker. I do actually recommend doing this in certain circumstances. BUT when you start doing this on a daily basis on your to-do list, some very important things will start to get missed because more times than not they are not the smallest or simplest tasks.
You likely possess numerous minor and straightforward tasks that you can swiftly complete, but are all of them essential to address immediately? Are there certain tasks that should take priority? When I started dropping the ball on some of those important things, I knew just keeping a to-do list wasn’t enough. I needed to get my list organized somehow. Which is how I found an organized workflow system.
So here is what you do instead of just having a to-do list. It is going to get a little tactical so if you can, sit down and get a pen and paper and follow along.
Conquering Overwhelm: The Organized Brain Dump Strategy
I have you do a brain dump when you are planning out your week. This is a more organized way of doing a to-do list. If you do not know what a brain dump is yet, when you sit down to plan your week you do a brain dump. You take out your planner and write everything in your head on the note section at the start of your week. This is going to be a very long list, I’m sure. It will look similar to your to-do list. If you need a little more detail on the brain dump, I have some previous episodes on it.
So what’s different than just doing a to-do list? Especially since a brain dump is so similar. That’s a great question! This puts all of your tasks in one place and you always know where to go to find it. It won’t get lost amid your kids’ school papers or mistakenly thrown away as if it were a piece of scratch paper or trash. It’s in your planner for that week. But the key to the brain dump is not the brain dump itself. It is what we do with the brain dump. Which leads me to number two.
Regaining Control: Transforming Overwhelm Through Organization
With to-do lists, you don’t usually keep it organized once it’s written out. It is just this long, unorganized list. And you keep adding to it. When you do your brain dump, you are actually going to number it in a 1, 2, 3, format to make it more organized. I opt for a top 3 priority list as it’s easier for me to manage, but you can create a top 4 or 5 priority list if it aligns better with your system and preferences. However, I strongly suggest choosing a top 3 priority list, as I find it to be more streamlined and straightforward.
Review your list and determine what takes the top spot, what’s a must-do right now or this week. Place those tasks in column 1. Next, consider your second-priority items; these are essential but not as urgent as, for instance, paying overdue rent from yesterday. Add these to your column 2. Finally, designate your third-priority tasks. These are things you’d like to accomplish but have no immediate time constraints. They can wait a few weeks or even months without causing issues, yet they should eventually be addressed.
So, you’ve organized the brain dump items into their appropriate columns. How does that feel? Are you already experiencing a reduced sense of overwhelm? Consider viewing them in a 1, 2, 3 priority format instead of having everything sit there, staring at you, and demanding completion. See? We’re already taking steps to manage that overwhelming feeling! It’s possible it hasn’t completely disappeared yet. You might still sense some overwhelm lingering. You might be looking at your 1 and 2 columns, thinking, “There’s still so much to do, and I’ll never be able to get it all done.” But don’t worry! We’re not finished yet.
Elevating Efficiency: Mastering Overwhelm through Strategic Routines
Look at your 1s and 2s. Do any of them go along with a routine you already have in place? Like laundry. I have a routine for laundry. I actually did an episode on that awhile back. Full transparency – I did not follow that routine this past week and laundry REALLY piled up. But it’s part of a routine that I can just pick right back up. So I started the routine back up and just added an extra load in the wash for the day. The routine, although slightly extended, remained an integral part of my regular schedule, guaranteeing the completion of essential tasks and ultimately assisting me in catching up. Now I could cross that off my list because it is a weekly routine. I no longer needed it on my brain dump because I had caught up.
What do you have on your list that is part of a routine you have in place? As you go through this, reflect on why you didn’t adhere to this routine and consider restarting it so that the task no longer feels obligatory. Then it feels like just part of your day again. Maybe you don’t have any routines set in place yet. This is where you decide which tasks could be incorporated into a routine.
Elevate Efficiency With Routines and Workflows
Laundry? If you don’t have a routine for this, then listen to my episode and try that. Dishes? I have a routine for that and I have given you some directions on how to keep up with the dishes. What about business or homeschool tasks? Do you have a long list of items to accomplish for that? Look at them and create a routine for all of the like tasks that can go together. Then, instead of having all of these bullet point tasks and having these columns. You have routines. Inside these routines, you complete a bunch of tasks while you are doing the routine.
For example, for my business I have routines for the like tasks. I have a Facebook Community, shameless plug come join! I do have a routine for the Facebook Group. At the start of the week, I create a schedule and all the posts. I’ve already completed my podcast episodes and determined their titles. I follow a routine to ensure I complete these tasks, eliminating the need to worry about them throughout the week.
I’ve established a routine for integrating the writing of my podcast notes into my schedule and coordinating it with my episode recording. This routine encompasses all aspects of episode creation. I consolidate tasks such as editing, writing show notes, adding links, creating a title, and scheduling for publication into a structured routine, ensuring nothing is overlooked and it becomes second nature. I consistently follow this same routine, enabling the smaller tasks to seamlessly integrate into the larger process, alleviating the feeling of overwhelm. Once you’ve mastered these routines, it leads us to the next step, which is number 4.
Creating Seamless Success: Crafting Organized Workflows for Overwhelming Tasks
Something I have talked about before, called MeisterTask. I love this program. If you don’t want to use the program then you don’t have to, but it does make things go so much more simple and automated. You don’t have to redo it every week. It’s already there. You have already completed those routines and workflows. It is so simple. For each category of tasks that require regular completion, it’s recommended to devise a dedicated workflow to establish routines and consistently execute them.This doesn’t take long. You have already completed the hard part, you’ve grouped the like tasks together now so you can create the workflow for it.
Returning to my business example, the process of recording an episode involves various steps. I have a workflow that encompasses all these tasks, and it follows a weekly cycle. First, I plan the episodes scheduled for the week, followed by writing the show notes and creating the title. Then, I proceed to record and upload the content to PodBean. Subsequently, I add show notes and relevant links before scheduling it for publication. This process seamlessly transitions into my social media workflow, where I create and schedule the corresponding posts.
Streamlining Daily and Educational Routines for Seamless Management
I also have a workflow for homeschooling and prepping, what I need to do when. I regularly complete these tasks, and you have all the details readily available. There is no need to even do a brain dump for those! You have already completed them, and you can simply repeat these workflows on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis.
Now there are things that I do that are routines that I do not put into workflows. Like laundry, dishes, feeding the animals, those are all normal parts of my day. I don’t need a workflow to tell me when or how to do it.
Turning Overwhelm into Organized Efficiency
You can get to this point too. I know that you want to get it all done and have the time to walk in the call that God has placed on your life. The time management coaching I have created just for you could do that. Your expanding to-do list overwhelms you, causing you to have a short fuse with your family. I’ve been there too!
But the system I talked to you about today and being able to toss that to-do list out, creating your workflows and routines can help solve that very problem. I teach you routines for time management so that you find balance in your life and enjoy your time again. Then you have time to actually live the life that God has called you to live! You’ll walk away with a customized time management plan and checklist and routines to implement that are easy to maintain and fit into your busy life. Just like what I talked about today. It will be a customized plan that I help you create as we work through your barriers.
Take a few extra minutes to do these steps then set up your workflows and try it for a month. If you stick with it, you will NEVER want to go back to your to-do list again. And if you need help or would like someone to walk through this with you, schedule your coaching session with me! I would be happy to help you!
Embrace the Calm of Organized Routines
We talked about some ways to ditch the to-do list that would lead to a more organized workflow. This included brain dumping, organizing your brain dump, creating or adding to routines, and establishing workflows. Instead of allowing those overwhelming to-do lists to run your life, make sure you implement these four steps to watch the overwhelm and stress dissipate. You will feel more prepared and nothing will be forgotten. Then you will ultimately be ready to follow God’s calling on your life because you will not be consumed with overwhelm.
I love you Mama! Have a great rest of your week!
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