Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Question Month: To-do Lists

Anonymous asks: When you can't keep your focus or get overwhelmed by the endless to-do list, what helps on stay on track to get it all done?

For me, it helps to break those overwhelming lists into smaller lists. Instead of focusing on the big picture and ultimately throwing in the towel because it seems an impossible task, I rewrite the lists into manageable portions. You can divide daily tasks into morning and afternoon tasks. Do one weekly task a day. You can assign bigger projects to one afternoon a week, or one weekend day.

Prioritize things with the help of the ones who care. For instance, I might think that it's a huge deal that I don't dust every single day, when Master only thinks it's necessary to dust once a week. I can then scratch dusting off of the daily chore list, guilt-free. If you've really just got too much on your plate, sit down and figure out which things have to go. There really are only so many hours in the day, and so much energy to go around. Maybe that 3 acre garden needs seriously downsized. Maybe the artsy side business needs to be shelved for a few years. Maybe every night home-cooking organic and creative meals can wait until the mandatory overtime at work is cut out. Maybe hiring a once a week/once a month maid service is feasible and opens up time to rejuvenate.

Find out what makes things go a little more smoothly. If shopping day is Monday, then Sunday night means going to bed with morning chores completed; then Monday doesn't feel so rushed. If certain days of the week run later and making dinner is stressful on those days, choose another day that has more time and make a meal ahead of time, or make a double batch a few nights (which is barely any extra work at all) and pop them in the freezer.

Sometimes I use a timer to help. I can set the timer for 15 or 30 minute intervals and spend that much time tackling one huge task that I find overwhelming, like organizing a closet or storeroom. Looking at it in terms of minutes rather than completion helps me to find the gumption to go at it. I can do anything for 15 minutes. If I want to work at it longer, I do, but I don't allow myself to quit until the timer goes off. And if it takes me several days to complete it, that's okay. I AM completing it and that's the bottom line, plus I'm not crabby, tired, frustrated or irritable in the process. Nor am I doing it at the expense of ignoring other necessary chores.

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Got kids? Use them. My 2 yr old granddaughter loves to put the silverware away when I unload the dishwasher. She likes matching the spoons and forks and she loves to help. Win-win. My older kids do their own laundry, which cut down significantly on my loads. When my son walks to the bus stop, he takes the garbage out with him. When my daughter goes to take a shower, she scoops the litter box. Streamline it for them, too, and there is less balking.

Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. I have also found in addition to all the great advice and suggestions that Kaya gave, if I use the calendar and put things on it, I find that I can accomplish them and feel good about doing so. If I schedule it, it gets done more so than even if I make a list. I do use lists, lots of them in fact, but to tackle things that are hovering over my head, I schedule the time into the calendar. Then I know the time is there, and I can accomplish it.



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