If you’re like most people, your to-do list is a never ending, lengthy list of all the things you would like to or need to accomplish. The unfinished tasks hang over you, leaving you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. According to Jim Benson, author of Personal Kanban, “If your list contains more work than you can get done in a relatively short time horizon, you tend to get crazy, flail, and attend only to what’s most obviously urgent at the moment rather than larger underlying issues that might actually be more meaningful.” On average you should have 3-5 tasks on your daily to-do list. That’s a reasonable number to accomplish and without you feeling guilty or stressed over the items not yet done. Below is an excerpt of a sample to-do list (work duties not included) followed by a more realistic version of the list.
A SAMPLE TO DO LIST
- Call Susie
- Plan summer vacation
- Pay insurance
- Landscape plan
- Upload camera photos and create photobook
- Help sis prepare for family get together
- Remind Tom to call his parents on their anniversary
- Reschedule lunch with Barb
A MORE REALISTIC TO DO LIST
- Call Susie TODAY – Maintaining relationships with friends and family give you energy and keep you sane. You’ll feel much better connecting with Susie versus all the negativity and stress that comes from putting off the call. Stop feeling bad or making excuses as to why it’s taken you so long to get back to her, just pick up the phone and move on.
- Book Hawaii trip for July – Plan summer vacation is too vague and does not give you a call to action. You should keep this on your list as, “Having something to look forward to makes you “feel good” and may also give an “atmosphere of growth” to your life, because the future seems bright.” (Grethen Rubin, The Happiness Project)
- Enroll in Automatic Bill Pay – Many things end up on your to-do list as a result of anxiety or worry (“I don’t want to forget to Pay my insurance!”). A better solutions is to automate this task using autopay (the funds are automatically withdrawn from your bank account or charged to your credit card) so you don’t have to remember.
- Buy Flowers for Front Yard – Landscape plan is a big project that is better off detailed somewhere besides your to-do list. Bite off a small chunk and add a new step of the landscape plan to your list each week.
Upload camera photos and create photobook– Yes, the number of online photo editing options are numerous. Yes, your friend spends hours making beautiful scrapbooks for each of her 3 kids and every family vacation. However, you are not a scrapbooker, never have been, and that’s okay! Outsource this task to your digital savvy child or find a professional instead.
- Go To Yoga – Be specific in your task (Workout is vague) and don’t be afraid to do something for yourself. Make time for physical activity EVERYDAY! It does not always have to be a 5 mile run, an hour long spin class, or very time consuming. Just do something that moves your body and you’ll see the return in terms of energy and a clearer mind.
- Help sis prepare for family get together – Helping others can sometimes be a drain, but once you do it, you’ll feel good. Your sister will appreciate it and know that she’s important to you.
Remind Tom to call his parents on their anniversary– You are not your husband’s keeper. He’s perfectly capable of keeping track of important dates and it’s not your job to manage his priorities. Let it go! Reschedule lunch with Barb– If you keep putting off a meeting it’s likely your not thrilled to be around this person. You don’t have the time or energy to be doing things out of guilt. Some friends and relationships are draining and it’s okay to let them go.
- LEAVE TIME FOR THE UNEXPECTED – Something will inevitably come up to ruin your plan (child gets sick, the sink backs up, or your car breaks down). Keep a cushion in your schedule so that if something unexpected does happen your entire plan will not fall apart.
Your to-do list may be longer and more complicated than the sample one shown here. However, let this be a guide to how you approach your own list and see where you can make some cuts and get more done.
Want to create a realistic to-do list with the help of some expert advice? Contact More Time For You for an initial consultation and find out how we can make the process happen more quickly and easily.