Do you find yourself hustling and bustling to try to get your daily to-do list finished each day? Does your heart start to race at the end of the day and you still have 2 more things you need to finish? Do you get grumpy with your significant other, family, or friends when they get in your way? If you do, I understand.
My Struggle With a Daily To-Do List
Every day I have a list of tasks or actions that I want to cross off my list. This list was starting to get pretty long when I started working from home due to the pandemic. Sometimes the list would reach 12 tasks that I wanted to finish. However, I found my sweet spot was getting 6 or fewer tasks done each day. This is how long my brain was able to stay focused so I could get my best work done.
However, I was trying to get all 12 done. Without any breaks, too.
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This was just not working. I was getting frustrated. I was tired. I would see my friends and family as annoyances.
I told myself I was just angry with them because THEY would always call at inconvenient times. Or, I would tell myself they didn't care about my schedule or what I was doing... they were just selfish. My heart would start to race, my brain and thoughts would start to feel jumbled.
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I was telling others no on activities that I really wanted to do. Because I had to get my daily to-do list done. I would get mad at people for wanting to talk to me because they were encroaching on my routine. It got pretty bad for a while.
Until... someone called me out. A trusted friend, who called to talk to me in the middle of my routine, stated that she noticed I was having a hard time letting go. I, of course, asked her what I needed to let go of. At this time, I did not know I was struggling with this. She said whenever someone gets in the way of your routine, you have a hard time letting go and just being. This really got to me. Because I knew she was right.
If you find yourself feeling like this, feeling like you HAVE to get your long, daily to-do list finished that day, I have some ways to help. These ways helped me, too. I'm not perfect each day. But the feeling of frustration has gone down.
List Your Top 3 Priorities
Each morning, write down your WHOLE daily to-do list. I do this during my morning journal time. If you don't have a morning journal time, you can simply write this down on a piece of paper or a specific to-do list notepad that you like.
After you have written your daily to-do list, write down, circle, or star your top 3 priorities. These are the tasks that absolutely have to be done today.
When you start your workday, these are the tasks you are going to work on first.
If these 3 tasks take you all day, that's okay. Because you started with your top 3 tasks that had to be done and they are done. This action alone will help lessen your desire to get your entire list done.
What happens many times is people write their list down and save important tasks for last. The tasks that really need to be finished that day are saved for last when you are struggling for energy. Or when you are tired. So now, you have to push through because those tasks were due that day. This creates a feeling of stress and frustration. This is what we want to avoid. A little stress is good for you but if you can avoid it here, I would recommend it.
Write your top 3 tasks down and start with those first. If you get those finished with time left, then you can start tackling the next thing on your to-do list and so on.
Carry It Over
Well, what happens if you don't finish your whole to-do list in one day? It's OKAY. Because guess what? That list is still there for you the next day. Did you write it with disappearing ink? My guess would be no. So, just pick up where you left off.
Write a new daily to-do list. Carry it over from yesterday. Write down the tasks you didn't finish yesterday and any new tasks that you need to add.
Then, do the same thing you did with your list yesterday. Circle, star, or write down your top 3 tasks. Your priorities. Do these tasks first. When you are finished, start tackling other things on the list.
Do these 2 things each day. Write your daily to-do list, pick the top 3 tasks of the day, get them down, and carry over what you didn't finish.
Less Stress, More Time
These 2 tips have helped reduce my stress and actually freed me up to do the activities that I want to do. I stopped being angry with people who I thought were interrupting my day. These people had no idea. They just want to talk or spend time with me. Being upset about this was getting to be ridiculous I thought.
Do I still have days where I feel frustrated? Yes. Are there still days where I feel like people are selfish and are interrupting me on purpose? Yes. That's just life. And I'm not perfect.
But these days are not every day anymore like they used to be. They are fewer now because of the way I, now, approach my daily to-do list.
Put your priorities first and carry over the rest.
Your Certified Brain Health Coach,
Owner of SustainaBRAIN