63% of professionals use to-do lists, at least according to a linkdn study published in 2012, but, according to the same study, only 11% of those professionals complete them. Can I get an amen to that?
As a stay at home mom I have to be self motivated and organized or my home gets chaotic…fast…like faster than Michael Phelps in a crocodile infested swimming pool kind of fast. One of the best tools in my arsenal? The to-do list, and while there are definitely days I don’t get through my to-do list. Lately there are more and more days where I rock it.
Here are my easy tricks for getting through your to-do list:
1. Don’t “overlist” yourself: If you aren’t getting through your list, put fewer things on it. This seems obvious, but for type A overachiever types (like myself) it’s not. No, you are not failing at your list because you are failing at life! You’re just over-scheduling yourself. I try to limit my list to 5 or 6 items.
2. Don’t make your list too rigid: My husband plans his day out by the hour, school from 8-10, work from 4-4, lunch from noon – 1 etc. But as mom’s (or stay at home dad’s) our lives just aren’t that predictable. Every single task is interrupted, there are hungry kids (who were just fed an hour ago), stubbed toes (that can only be healed by a kiss), peed pants, is it nap time already? You get the picture. It’s OK to have a few items that have to be completed at a certain time, but try not to get overwhelmed if it’s 2 pm and you’re not done yet. There are so many things we do as moms that can’t be quantified or checked off in a list. Healthy happy kids are the goal, not five satisfying check marks.
3. Keep it consistent: For the most part, my list looks the same from day-to-day. It’s part of my routine and the fact that it is pretty similar day-to-day means that when I inevitably get distracted I can get back on track once the distraction is over, rather than wandering off and starting something else entirely. This tip is HUGE for me. Seriously, if you only pay attention to one of these tips, I would start with this one.
4. Start your list in the morning: Have you ever had a morning where you were too tired to get out of bed so you let the kids watch Daniel Tiger while you caught an extra thirty minutes of shut-eye? How did the rest of the day go? Was it easy to get back into your usual routine and be productive? I’m not saying days like that don’t happen. We’re human after all, but if you are looking for a productive day then it’s a lot easier if it starts out that way.
5. Keep your list in a visible place: My to-do list is on the baker’s rack in my kitchen. It’s front and center. I see it multiple times every day, so when I’m distracted or zoned out (now what did I come into the kitchen for?) I can see my list and get going. I don’t know if it’s my right-brained self or what, but I get side tracked easily. This tip helps me “re-rail” quickly when that happens…. like fifty times a day…
So, now that you’ve read my easy tips for how to get through your to-do list. Here’s my super easy way to make a reusable white board to do list.
First, take an 8 x 10 piece of paper, I used butcher paper, and crumple it up into a ball.
Then, smooth it out as best you can
Place it into a picture frame, mine came from the dollar store
And you are done!
Grab a dry-erase marker and get to-do-ing. You can do a traditional to do list. Or you can even play a game with yourself. Check out this tic-tac-to-do list I made. Once you’ve accomplished three things you win! Wooo hooo!).
And it can be used for many purposes. I actually do my home pre-school on it before writing my to-do list in the morning.
Moral of the Story: Getting stuff done is hard. But you can do it! Go grab a to do list and feel productive :)