Just the other day, I sat down and had a bout of dizziness because I just had SO MUCH TO DO.
It wasn’t necessarily all “big” things like: Take Baby Bun to appointment for vaccinations, but it was all those little tiny things I have been putting off, or delaying for various reasons.
I sat down, and thought: I need to somehow feel like I am in control of this mess, but how?
Then it hit me:
WITH ONE BITE AT A TIME.
(Obviously I need a food reference, because I’m a pig.)
Here’s what I ended up doing, and now I feel a lot better about everything.
I use an app by Appigo called ToDo, so this made it way easier for me, but if you don’t….
LIST EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO DO
Brain dump everything you think you need to do and get done, and list it all out, ignoring dates, times and importance.
Just list it all out.
For really major things like creating a photo book that will take hours to comb through photos to get, split it out into months or sub-tasks.
NOTE DATES, TIMES & DURATION
After your list is done, put dates & times for things that require specific dates/times and list how long you think it would take (this includes the time it takes to get there).
For instance, let’s say you need to make cupcakes for some bake sale you promised you’d cover.
You want to make sure you list the time you need to go to the grocery store, buy the items, go home, make the cupcakes, package them, and then bring them to wherever you promised. This could be a task for a whole day, but at least you aren’t being unrealistic.
Now go through the entire list, and rank it starting from #1 (what you have to get done NOW that is urgent).
Let’s say those cupcakes are due at the end of the day tomorrow, obviously you need to do it today, or tomorrow, so that gets priority #1. Something else like having to buy more pens, would get a lower ranking.
OPTIONAL: RE-LIST EVERYTHING IN ORDER OF PRIORITY BY DATE, THEN IMPORTANCE
If you didn’t do it on paper, you can do this with Excel or Word or something, and just cut and paste your tasks on top of each other in a nice long, easy to read row.
What you want to do, is put all the stuff that requires dates/times FIRST in a row at the top, then in the second section, everything else, by ranking.
Now you have your master list.
DO ONLY THREE THINGS A DAY
Each day, go through the list and pick out three things you can accomplish.
Obviously, you will want to take the highest priority ones as much as you can, but there are days when you just can’t do them, or it would take too long to do three items that are 3 hours each!
Once you accomplish those three things, pat yourself on the back and stop.
Or, do a fourth item, but don’t put it on your list and then feel like you didn’t do anything all day.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN PRACTICE
This is my sample list (filled with actual things I had to do, there were a few more important appointments and events but you get the idea).
I brain dumped in a huge list:
Then I started putting dates and durations:
I always like to over schedule more time than I think, because I have a toddler.
It always takes 25% more time to get things done because you have to change them, get them into clothes, get them in and out of the car, pry things out of their hands in the store that they want to keep & play with but you refuse to buy, etc.
Then I made my 3-a-day lists, taking into account date priority & how long it would take to complete each:
DATES ARE MORE IMPORTANT
You need to make sure you put dates on things that NEED A DATE. Birthdays, parties, anniversaries, events, appointments.
Those are set in stone, or “firm”, and you need to plan around them.
DON’T FOLLOW THE NUMBERS RIGIDLY
My priorities list also doesn’t mean I knock out each item in a row, like 1, 2, 3… I just KNOW which ones are more important, and I always look at let’s say #1 first, then #2 and make a judgement call on whether I am able to realistically complete 1, 2 and 3 in that order, or if I need to skip it just for today, and do something else instead.
For instance, I needed to do the soup today (no food in the fridge left & I was feeling sick), so I scheduled in 6 hours which included the shopping for the food, bringing it back, preparing it, and letting it simmer on the stove for about 2 hours.
In the meantime while it simmered, I could research how to diagnose Baby Bun’s persistent diaper rash by calling Info Santé for suggestions, asking Mommy friends or Googling.
After I figured out how to help Baby Bun with his immediate problem, I could calculate my salary while he napped.
I left the balancing of the books, changing direct deposits and investment rebalancing for the next day because I just wanted to get it all done.
DIVERSIFY & BALANCE YOUR TASKS
You may also want to consider not putting all the boring stuff together (e.g. all the personal finance management), and intersperse things like “mailing letter to Mom” which gets you out of the house for a bit and leaving some tasks for the next day.
If you are stuck inside just doing stuff on the computer it could really make you cranky at the end that you didn’t even get a chance to go out.
Or at least, that’s my case sometimes.
UNDERSTAND YOU CAN’T GET IT DONE ALL AT ONCE
Sometimes, traffic gets in the way.
Or your toddler is not cooperative with his naps.
Whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get everything done, even if you only chose 3 things.
Even if you miss a day or get delayed for an unforeseen reason, understand that you still have a plan and are on track!