Lately, it seems, the days are getting shorter and shorter.
I wake up, open my planner, and stare down at a neatly organized to do list, with confidence in my chances of being productive. I start out well, cross off a few of the first items and then all of a sudden, it’s 7:12 and my kids are looking at me like I am supposed to cook them dinner or something. (Don’t worry mom, I told them to thaw out one of the things you sent, they’ve got it). It’s like I woke up just a few minutes ago. How in the world did I get to this point in the day already? More importantly, how many of my to-do’s did I accomplish? (4 out of 10 if I count painting my nails…. whatever it was on there….) Do you have days like that? I got sick of getting to this point. At first, I was unrealistic and thought I could prevent myself from ever feeling this disorganized and off schedule again. As I am sure you can guess, this blew up in my face. I decided that it was time to make sure I had a way to handle this when the situation arises again (as it always does). I came up with a list of things to do before things got out of control. If I actually DO these 3 things the MINUTE I start to feel my days slipping away, I end up back in control. So here is my secret weapon,
How to CRUSH your To-Do List with Just 3 Simple Steps.
Step 1: Write it down.
Seriously. Don’t type it into your phone or on your laptop. Physically take a pen and write the words down on a piece of paper. The act of doing so engages more parts of your brain than it would if you were just listening and trying to remember or if you were typing something quickly (your brain isn’t as engaged when you type as it is when you are
physically writing). Why does that matter?
Why does that matter?
Think about, how often do you write something down and then go back and look at it? Not very. Usually, because you don’t have to. Now think about the opposite. You don’t write it down you just try to remember or add a keyword version to your phone. Most likely, you DON’T remember the task clearly enough to complete it. If you quickly, add a shortened version to your phone, you often have to go back and re-read it a few times in order to complete the task. Physically writing it down will embed it in your brain, therefore it will be more likely to get done in a timely manner.
Step 2: Separate Your To-Do List
I personally have a to-do list that is a disaster. Things are written all over, some on my phone, some on my notebook, some in my dori and another piece on a sticky-note that keeps getting left in the car. These lists all contain the same type of information. Things that need to be done ASAP and things that don’t. Each list was edited because it happened to be the list that was closest to my hand at the moment. Not good. I constantly forget at least one thing time-sensitive thing because it was written on another list. Our memory is unreliable. Take 10 minutes and re-organize your lists. Keep them all in the same place, just on different pieces of paper. Designate each list to be only for one specific thing (grocery shopping, To-do this morning, to do today, to do after 4 pm on Monday, home repairs needed, Ideas for blog posts, etc). Organize it in a way where you will be able to see what is needed to be done immediately, vs what is less-pressing. Sometimes, I even organize my to-do list for today into sections (to-do in the morning, afternoon, to call about, to buy, to go, etc). I know that sounds crazy but it’s super helpful and cuts down on my “figuring out what to do next” time. Here is a cute to-do list that I have printed out and used before. Sometimes I make my own, sometimes I just find them on Pinterest. Check out my To-Do Lists Board for some freebie links!
STEP 3: SET ALARMS!
When we were younger, my brother used to have this watch that I suppose, was the equivalent of a smart watch now (but compared to now, looks like something you can buy at the dollar store for kids to play with). It would beep at certain times during the day, depending on when he set the alarms for. Though we not longer have the Zach Morris electronics, we still have alarms that we carry around with us. I am sure you are like the majority of the world, and can’t live without your cell phone in close proximity. Use this to your advantage. Set a reminder/alarm so the phone interrupts what you are doing to remind you of something important. Set it when you first decide that this is a task worth doing. Set it for multiple times so you can prepare yourself mentally and also be ready to get it done. This will help avoid some of the panicky last minute things that come up and threaten to destroy your productive day.
Now like I said, I am still a mess. I can only keep myself disciplined for a while before I find my days flying off the rails again, but you know what? That is ok. It means I am human. God is not expecting me to be able to go through my days here on earth as if I were a ballerina. He is completely aware that most days I am like my giant pig stuck in between the kitchen table and the back wall. As always, there is grace for this. That is His job. Mine is to learn from my mistake and try to catch it, pull it in and work my 3 steps so I can get back on track!
What do you think? Do you have any tips or tricks that help you be productive on a regular basis? Leave a comment below! I would love to try one out!