Do you ever have those days when you just feel completely overwhelmed by your to-do list? The days when you have so many items on your list that you don’t even know where to start. It can almost paralyze you mentally when you don’t know where to begin. When this happens to me I like to pick a simple task that I can easily get done and feel good about. One day when I was totally overwhelmed I decided to start by just folding laundry. That’s where I came up with this simple method for taking control of my to do list.
Start With Simple
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I realized that doing laundry and tackling a to do list can be both accomplished in similar ways. The first way is to start with simple. Many people say to always do the hardest task on your to do list first. When you are overwhelmed, I believe it is better to start with a simple and easy to accomplish task like the laundry. Sometimes what we need when we are overwhelmed is an easy win.
Sort It Out
When you are doing laundry you usually don’t dump all the clothes in the machine together. You sort them by color so that they don’t bleed into each other and make a mess. You also put laundry in the washer by order of importance. The same is true for conquering an overwhelming to do list. You have to sort your tasks out by importance. If you have limited time to get your list done, you have to know what should come first.
One way is to make three lists. You can have an A list for important and urgent tasks, a B list for secondary tasks and a C list. The C list is for items that you would like to get done. You only do C list items when you have extra time and the A and B list are complete. When you are sorting through tasks you also have to be willing to delegate, defer, decide or delete tasks.
Keep Like Items Together
When you do laundry you put like items together in loads. When you are tackling your to-do list you should batch your tasks together as much as possible. This will allow you to focus better and get through your tasks faster. I try to do errands together when possible, return email correspondence at the same time each day and do my cleaning in batches.
Share the Load
We have all heard it said that many hands make light work. When I do the laundry, it always goes much faster when my husband and kids help me fold and put items away. It always goes faster. When your to do list is overwhelming you should also ask for help. Share the load with your spouse, family members or friends if they can. This is when you delegate or defer a task to someone else.
Finish One Item at a Time
Have you ever met someone who could fold multiple pieces of laundry at the same time? Can you imagine that skill? Have you tried to fold two shirts, two towels or two bed sheets at the same time? Me, neither. It’s nearly impossible. To conquer our to do lists we have to be willing to tackle our list one small piece at a time. Eventually all those small steps will lead you to conquer your to do list without all the overwhelm. If you fold all the pieces of your laundry and then stack them neatly in the basket you will ultimately get the laundry done. The same can be said for your to do list, take each piece and check it off one by one and you will get it done.
Use Good Tools
You can’t get much done with a broken washing machine and bad detergent. The same holds true for conquering your to do list. To keep my to do list manageable in a way that allows me to keep track and get it all done. I use the right tools:
A Planner, Organizer, or Bullet Journal
I have used many different planner books over the years. You may be a digital person, but I prefer to still write things down. I have used the Passion Planner, The Living Well Planner, and a Bullet Journal. The choice is really up to you and what you prefer.
I have used this app for several years now and I just love it for keeping track of lists. My number one list I keep on it is items we need at the grocery store. My husband and I both use it and we share lists. That is a really convenient feature. You won’t have to guess what is your list or make excuses like I left it at home.
I can’t live without post it notes. I keep them all over. In my desk, in the cars, and a few in my purse. If I put notes in my phone, I often forget to check them. Post it notes are still my best visual reminder. I just write a note and stick it somewhere that I will see it.
I love these notepads by Knock Knock Stuff. They have some many fun and useful notepads.
When you have paper work or lots of ideas you want to organize, I find that having nice binders is a great way to keep them organized. Going paperless is great, but so is having the information at your fingertips. Technology does fail and sometimes it can be slower. The binder I refer to most is our home management binder.
For the past few years I have posted our family’s weekly schedule on the refrigerator and it has been a game changer for us. Click here to read about how it works.
There you have it, the secret to taking control of your to do list.