So many people complain about never having enough time in the day to get all their stuff done. I’m guilty of whining, too. “My todo list keeps giving birth to todos!” Like Gremlins getting wet with a drop of water, the more you check them off, the more they multiply. If only our todos were as cute and cuddly as Gizmo!
I’ve been reading three books that are messing with my head and how I manage my todos, my stuff, and my time. My biggest takeaway as I read them simultaneously is: My todo list can be my friend, if I want it to be.
Here’s how these three books have been helping me make friends with my todo lists:
- I’m accepting the fact that tasks are never going to go away. When life is busy and even when it’s not, there’s always something that will need to get done. Always. Whether it’s meeting a deadline for a writing assignment or a website relaunch, or taking care of a newborn, or cleaning out the spare room that now houses your daughter’s old stuff, there will always be something screaming for your attention. It’s a fact of life.
- I pick a time of day to process my “stuff” with a system. Whether you’re a digital fan like me who uses tools like OmniFocus 2, or an old-fashioned pen and paper kinda gal, having a system to process your tasks is crucial. If you don’t, your todos are going to keep growing like weeds or your collection of hair care products and makeup in your bathroom. You need to put them in their place and run them, not the other way around.
- I block off a chunk of time on the weekdays to do my best work and not just process my todos or my system. My favorite time of day, even before I read Ms. Vanderkam’s book, is in the morning. (And no, it’s not because I hosted a morning show for five years. That was torture.) I started waking early on my own when I hit my mid-forties. I’m up between 5:30 and 6:00 every morning before my alarm goes off. (Older people need less sleep. Yes, I said “older.”) I use this time to write for Savvee before going to the day job, or write for the day job in the quiet of my house. I go to Yoga once a week at 5:30 a.m. and other days I do a 7 minute workout to get my muscles moving.
- I schedule an actual time to process my “stuff.” For me, it’s after I’ve done my important task for the day, i.e. writing, content creation. Monday mornings at our office are blocked off for the entire staff to do 9time. This time is meant for planning the week and preparing for the week’s meetings.
- I use Timeful to block off times in the day to work on specific tasks. This system shows me how little time I actually have in a day! It’s been a grim awakening to realize I can’t check off everything I want to check off, so I don’t. Seeing things intentionally scheduled keeps me from wasting time. Goodbye, multitasking.
- I’m being intentional about carving time for working on my goals. I avoid work-work on Saturday mornings when I’m not at the part-time retail job and use the time to blog for myself or learn something on one of the many Udemy courses I’ve purchased.
Whatever cannot be done in a day can be put on my calendar for another day. The list is not going to go away. Better to live with it on my terms than be at its mercy.