There's always so much to do. Everyone demands your attention and time; you come to the end of the 24-hour period called a day, and your to-do list is still there – more often than not with more to do than what you started with.
Taking charge of your to-do list is about being in control of your own life and not being run by your obligations. I've made this short and sweet, listing the most effective and cut-to-the-chase methods in order to bring relief to stress brought on by long to-do lists.
So before we begin I’d just like to point out something, via a great anonymous quote: “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”
1. Decide what’s important.
Figuring out what your top priorities are and where you want to spend the majority of your time means that you're focusing on where your energy goes. Why? Because when you choose what you want, you're in charge, and you decide what does and doesn’t fit in with this plan for your life.
Action Step: Write down a day of your ideal life with no limits. Give yourself anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes to write without any filter.
2. Just say no.
Now that you know what is truly important, you can say no to the things that aren’t. Top priority is spending time with your daughter? That optional work doesn’t fit, so say no and spend more time doing what you love.
Action Step: Write down three things that you'll choose to say no to from now on (it could be late night parties, work on the weekends, phone and email messages after 6 p.m.).
3. Put numbers to it.
When you do have to-do lists – prioritize! There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to write #1 by all the things that have to be done first, #2 by the next tasks and so on. The rules are that you can’t do any of the #2s until all the #1s are complete, and so on.
Action Step: Put numbers to your tasks or use your own favorite prioritizing system.
4. Plan in advance.
If you have a lot to get done, plan it out the day before. I find I have way more drive if I plan what I’m doing the day before. Make it a habit to write down the next day’s tasks at the end of the day for your clearest vision and action.
If you don’t set aside time for the things you want to do or love then how will they make the top priority list over the things that you "have to do?" If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real, so book it in your calendar and make yourself a top priority, because it’s you who's living your life, not me, or your boss, or business, or anyone else.
Action Step: Write out your next day’s plan tonight. Put at least one thing that you have been dying to do but haven’t yet in your calendar for this week and DONT CANCEL IT! You are non-negotiable on your happiness from now on.
5. Take mini-breaks and be flexible.
This life is all about changes, and in a storm you can choose to be the flexible willow tree that sways with the wind but still maintains its roots, or the stiff, stagnant tree that snaps in the first strong breeze.
Action Step: Take mini-breaks between each task, even if it’s just counting five breaths, stretching, getting glass of water, or doing some shoulder rolls.
I think you get the point now – fill your life with only the things you chose.
I would love to hear about your to-do list and which tips you found especially helpful. So leave a comment below!