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After you finally cross off that item on your to-do list – you know, the one that’s been staring you down for the last 7 months – something new pops back up in its place. Even one little glance at your master list is enough to make your head spin. Yep, I’ve been there.
While I can’t control how much you have on your plate, I know that organizing my to-do list has helped me get a grip on my workload. It’s made me more efficient, realistic, and that oh-so-satisfying feeling of checking an item off comes often. A few very simple things have changed the way I do to-dos.
First, ask yourself if your list is up to date.
You’ll never be productive if you’re working off a two-year-too-old list. Fixing the garage door was done over a year ago. Take it off. Clean house. That’s the best place to start. I recommend doing this every couple of months because if you’re anything like me and have to write everything down so you won’t forget, you also unintentionally forget to cross things off too.
The rule of three.
Section your list into three groups – have to, want to, and the it’d-be-nice to. These are the three sections I use, but the principle is identifying what’s urgent and what isn’t. If you can complete what is urgent first, you’ll feel worlds better. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a free moment to get number 17 on that it’d-be-nice-to list done.
What, a girl can dream, right?
Set due dates.
In that have-to section give yourself a due date on every single item. Multiple studies and hours of research have proven that we are more likely to accomplish something when it has a due date. Take this a step further by being realistic with your deadlines. To-do lists are meant to keep you organized and less stressed. One of the most frustrating things EVER is time and time again not doing all the things. Realistic due dates will help with that.
Let’s take it one step even further and set due dates on those other two sections, the want-to, and the it’d-be-nice-to, because chances are those are goals that relate to your hobbies, or something that involves self-care. Those are important goals to reach too. Don’t ignore them. Give yourself a long enough due date that you won’t feel the stress of “having” to accomplish anything, but short enough that you’re still taking care of yourself.
Divide into daily, weekly, and monthly lists.
This should be easy enough after you’ve given yourself due dates. Obviously, the most time-sensitive items need to be included first. Another good rule of thumb to follow is to tell yourself you have five things you need to accomplish every week. That number can vary depending on who you are and what your schedule looks like, but give yourself a set number.
Hint: if you haven’t gotten a planner yet, don’t waste any more time. Absolutely the best option for organizing your list this way.
Go for the easy wins.
No, I’m not giving you permission to take the easy road. But think about how many times you have a mile-long to-do list and just never get anything done because of time and brainpower you don’t have. Set yourself up for success. Put a few easy things on your have-to list, and on your daily, weekly, and monthly lists.
Some other lists you can make
You can never be too organized! Lists are great options for:
- Grocery shopping
- Books to read
- Projects around the house
From these lists, you can figure out what needs to go on those bigger and time-sensitive lists.
Okay, that’s a lot of lists, I know, but staying organized is a great strategy for fighting stress. Once you have it all down on paper, you’ll know what you’re working with and will be able to give yourself a realistic time frame to get (almost) everything done.
Digital to-do lists are great, but I personally LOVE keeping my lists on paper. It reinforces tasks as I write them, I can see them all at once, and who doesn’t love writing on cute paper with cute pens (#handletteringnerd.)
Check out my amazon list for the most-satisfying list-making pens! For planners and fun planner accessories, my go-to is Rad and Happy.
Cheers to making your headspace a little less chaotic. Follow along for more to-do-list fun and organizational tips: @canvassigndesigns.