OK moms, raise your hand if you’re an “enthusiastic” list maker. You know what I’m talking about. You have a to-do list that seems to get longer by the minute. You either have a notebook in your purse at all times or an app that has somehow become your personal assistant. It doesn’t matter what method you use, the lists just keeping getting longer and it feels like you can’t keep up.
You’ve got laundry to do, meals to cook, groceries to buy, kids to shuttle to school and events, emails to respond to, phone calls to make, a car to service, a house to clean and….I could go on but you get the picture right?
If you can relate, welcome to the club my list-making sister! I completely understand.
The answer to this frustration came to me while at work one day. We have themed days, meaning, every day of the week has a specific purpose. Each of us try to schedule client meetings or complete specific tasks during these days. For example, Mondays are no meeting days to help us get focused and organized for the week ahead. Tuesdays are customer focused, Wednesdays are team focused and so on. This was borne out of a need for us to be more productive with our time and to minimize the need for certain meetings.
After a few weeks of getting into the rhythm of the themes, I started to think about how I could apply this idea to my day-to-day life.
Here’s the key takeaway for anyone feeling overwhelmed by their to-do list, instead of looking at it as a massive mountain to climb, shift your focus to tackling specific tasks on specific days.
Here’s how it works:
Set up your to do list
In order for this to work, organization is key. If you tend to add things to your list ad hoc, consolidate everything in one place. If you’re super visual and have sticky notes everywhere, gather them all up. Stick them all on a huge piece of poster board or in a notebook.
If you use your phone but have multiple lists, create one master list with everything included so that it’s easier to see everything in one place.
Pick a day to give yourself enough time to think through your list and add anything new that comes to mind. If you’re planning for the week ahead, working through this process on Sunday evening works well.
Group similar tasks together
Once you have your list, group the items into six buckets. You choose the buckets that make the most sense for you and your week. To get the juices flowing, here are some ideas:
- Meal planning and cooking
- Hobbies/side hustle, etc
Your buckets are what will determine your daily themes so pick buckets you know you’ll be able to work with.
Set up your daily themes & block off time to get things done
Once your buckets are full, assign each one to a day of the week, Monday to Saturday. Most calendar apps allow you to set an all day event so that it’s clear to see the theme for each day.
Here’s a sample of what my themes look like:
My themes run across the top and offer a quick snapshot of each week.
- Monday = Religion: Prayer & Devotionals
- Tuesday = Errands & Household Upkeep
- Wednesday = Blogging & Freelance
- Thursday = Fitness
- Friday = Family Time
- Saturday = Meal Planning
For your calendar, put each of your tasks in a time slot. But remember, just because you plug in a task at a specific time doesn’t mean you’re tied to it forever. Allow yourself some flexibility week to week. If you have to miss your morning workout one week, find an evening class that fits into your schedule. The important this is to keep the task within that day’s theme to avoid losing control of your time.
Here’s a sample of what my week looks like:
Now that you’re not trying to tackle everything at once or without a plan, you should feel less overwhelmed because now you’re looking at a shorter to-do list each day.
If something comes up, rather than just throwing it on the list, you can be more intentional about it and schedule it in for a specific day. Of course, if it’s urgent take care of it right away but if not, put it where it belongs in your week.
Finally, schedule “me time”
I know you’re asking, “we’ve covered six days but what about the seventh?” Don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about Sunday. To be present in our relationships and with our kids, we have to make time for ourselves. Even if it’s not weekly, find some time, once a month, to do something that’s just for you.
Think of 5-10 things that would make you happy and set aside time to do each one. Do you like being pampered, book a massage or spa day. Are you a movie buff? Head to the movies!
Whatever it is, schedule time for it so that you remember to make it happen.
I’ve chosen Sunday because that works for my schedule. Your theme and days are your own so you can rearrange this in any way that makes the most sense for you. If Fridays are family day because weekends are packed with activities, then run with it. If Monday’s are your “me days” because of your work schedule, then do it.
Now it’s your turn
So, there you have it. It takes some effort and lots of thought to get organized but once you make the effort, your days will run much smoother.
The purpose of this exercise is to make your life easier and alleviate stress. Remember to be flexible and choose an approach that works for you.
Now that you have the tools, I’m curious to know how this process works for you. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts, experience and suggestions.