It's no secret that I love organization and checking things off my to-do list. In fact, I love it so much that I'll add things I've already done to the list just for the pleasure of marking them as complete.
Avoiding To-Do List Overwhelm
As much as I love checking things off, I don't like having a totally full to-do list. Unfortunately, as a business owner, I usually have way too many tasks and not enough time. Luckily, I've figured out a few tricks to help me stay organized and keep from being weighed down by everything I have to accomplish.
Start with a Brain Dump
If you're like me, your brain runs a mile a minute and is always thinking of new things you need to do. When it gets to the point that I can't concentrate on anything else, I like to do a brain dump. It's easy to do and lets me get everything down on paper so that I can move on.
- Start by getting out some paper and a pen. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Then write down everything you have to do. Not just the immediate stuff, by EVERYTHING. The things you want to do next week, next month, next year. The crazy ideas and the totally practical stuff. Get it all out. And when you think you're done, sit with it for a while because usually even more tasks will pop into your head.
- Once you have everything down, it's important to go through the list. Take some time to organize your thoughts into categories.
- Things I Don't Actually Have to Do
- Things that Need to Be Done Soon
- Things for the Future
- Use these categories to prioritize what you spend your time on. If you have a bunch of small tasks that need to be done soon, set aside some time right away and do them. It really doesn't take that long to wash the dishes or clean the bathrooms and having something checked off can really give you a boost.
A Long Term Calendar
Once I've done my brain dump and have my list of things for the future, I make sure to add them to my calendar. Maybe I'll schedule out all the smaller items that I need to do to make the bigger one happen. Or maybe I'll just add a reminder to make that phone call or go to that meeting.
I also use this calendar for all of my appointments and important dates. That way, I know what's coming up - both business and personal - before I start scheduling my day to day work.
Get A Planner
I am obsessed with paper planners. I've tried the apps and software, but I always work best on paper. So find whatever works best for you - a bullet journal, a traditional planner, a notebook, Evernote, Asana, Excel - and go with it.
I've been bullet journaling for a few months now and I love it because it allows me flexibility in what I get done and isn't restricting.
Each day, write down the tasks you want to get done THAT DAY. It doesn't matter is the things you have to do are tiny - like scheduling your Twitter posts - or totally generic - like writing your blog posts for the month. Just write them down and then get to work. Set aside time for each task and check it off as you finish. If you find yourself working on something that wasn't on the list, make sure to write that down as well.
Do it Your Way
Even if these methods don't work for you, it's important to keep track of what you need to accomplish each day. It helps you avoid sitting on social media for hours and realizing that you didn't get any work done (guilty). And don't forget to schedule time for yourself, be it a few minutes, and hour or two, or even a whole day. It's totally okay for your to-do list to be Netflix and Chill every once in a while.