How to Make Your To-Do List Work For You

January 22, 2018

How often do you feel drowned in things to do?  I can't tell you how many times I have to pull out my phone during the day and add tasks to my running list on my Reminders app.  Whether it's returning a phone call, drafting a contract, writing workouts or even finishing blog posts, my responsibilities are all laid out in a neat little register that I keep with me at all times. 


No matter where or how you keep your to-do list, there's one thing we can all agree on: they're stressful. They're stressful when they get to be long, and they're stressful when they're eerily short (a surefire sign that you're forgetting something.)


It feels like my entire life is one big list of things I need to get done, which used to cause me stress headaches. Now, though, I'm able to divide and conquer like a professional with a little logic and a few tips.



1. Write it all down.

This might seem unnecessary at first, but it's absolutely crucial that you keep all of your responsibilities on your list, even if they're no-brainers.  By keeping everything all in one place, you won't have the all-too common case of "I was working so hard on the big project that I forgot to do all the little things." No matter what it is you need to do today, this week or this month, add it to the list.  This brain storming session is usually when you'll remember things you would have otherwise forgotten, so take your time and really think it through.






2. Set due dates & order your list accordingly.

Now that you've got a great big list, label each task with it's due date.  If tasks don't necessarily have dates they need to be completed by, use a date that you would like to have them done. For example, I don't need to have my writing for the magazines done by any specific date, but I'd like to have that off my plate before it's time to map out my social media calendar for February, so I'm going to set it's due date before 2/1. 


Once you have all of your due dates listed, start ordering the list so that the tasks that need to be completed first are at the top in descending order. 



3. Start with the smallest tasks.

As you can see, I have 5 things that I need to accomplish before Monday: two blog posts, three spin classes, one Fit HIIT class, my social media calendar for next week & my client workout plans for next week. While some are due sooner than others, the best way for me to conquer this list is to start with the smallest and easiest tasks.


Even though my blog posts are due sooner than my spin classes, it's going to take me a lot less time to write the classes than it will the posts, so I'm going to start with that. 


If the first thing on your list is due immediately and you don't have the luxury of starting with something else, don't, but if you have a little time, it's definitely beneficial to begin with what's easiest.


4. Set time in your calendar to get things done.

When I'm not working or working out, I have time blocked in my calendar labeled "WORK + WRITE."  This is time that I set aside just to cross things off of my to-do list, whether that means paying bills, grocery shopping, writing workouts or answering e-mails.


Blocking out space in your calendar is a surefire way to have the time to get stuff done, even if that time is spent during your lunch break or in the car during your kid's soccer practice.  We spend so much time every day on social media, watching TV and lounging around, and while time dedicated to relaxing is important, we can't overdo it and allow ourselves to drown in avoided responsibilities. 

While we're on the subject, it's important to remember that self-care practices belong on your to-do list, too.  Whether you want to work out, get a massage, get your hair done or read a book, add it to the list so it becomes a priority. 


Finally, remember not to stress.  The idea of the list is that it takes the weight of remembering everything off of your shoulders, so once it's on the list and it has a due date, let it go and handle only what you can handle in the here and now.


You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce, so conquer what you can and plan the rest.  You got this!





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