If you're anything like me, you have a ton of thoughts in your head at any one time and are easily distracted from important tasks like doing laundry and washing dishes by evil, evil (but totally, totally 'why didn't I think of that?' amazing) sites like Pinterest and Bloglovin.
It's not just me, is it? No one is out there living there life completely free of tasks and responsibility? Don't tell me if you are, I'm not sure we'd get along!
The way I see it, there are only two ways out of this kind of achievement rut, and that's to fully succumb to the lure of the internet (hint: this is not the right way), or to light a proverbial fire under yourself and finally get a few things done.
Writing a to-do list can be a cathartic experience and contribute to a sense of achievement, spurring you on to do even more. I like to think of to-do lists as a sort of pensieve, like in Harry Potter, where you can pull out all the thoughts swirling around in your head and pop them neatly in an airtight container.
Here are a few do's and don'ts I've learnt along the way.
1. Put a check-box or circle next to each item and check these items off with a big tick in your favourite coloured pen once you have completed them. Who doesn't like to see a whole page of pressing tasks crossed off a list at the end of the day?
2. Break your to-do list down into manageable tasks. You don't want to get to the end of the day having achieved half of a to-do list task and unable to check anything off! Think about bigger tasks (like cleaning your room or planning a party) as big buckets for smaller tasks. For example, instead of 'clean room', you might put a few small tasks like 'vacuum floor in room' and 'put laundry away in cupboard' as tasks. This eases the pressure on your day and you can still feel a sense of achievement if you only get to one or two of the smaller tasks.
3. Use your list. We're all guilty of writing a list and promptly getting distracted by something that isn't even on it. If it helps, structure your list in order of importance. Personally, I like to just work my way down from the top of the list, as usually the first things that come to mind to list are the most pressing jobs.
4. Some people find it helps to have multiple lists for home and work. Approaching your to-do lists this way gives a greater sense of having a work/life balance, so you're not bringing your work tasks into your home environment. It's easy for some tasks to slip their way into the wrong list, so it's important to assess your lists and make sure that your work isn't taking over (or vice versa!).
5. Try keeping your lists in one place. Don't fall into the trap of half-finished shopping lists on the back of old shopping dockets, strewn around the house. I've never quite figured out how to sync my notes between my computer and my phone, so I carry a small notebook with me. It's kind of a never-ending to-do list but allows me to see all the tasks I have at once and fits in my bag easily.
6. Make a time to review and update your lists. Whether it's before you go to bed (to avoid tossing and turning with a brain that can't turn off), or first thing in the morning, it's important to give yourself time to focus on the new habits you're trying to create for yourself.
1. Buying endless amounts of pretty stationery will not help you write your lists, or tick anything off them. I speak from personal experience and many dollars spent on cute notebooks from Japan, post-its in the shape of cats and magnetised tear-off shopping pads for the fridge. Stick with one at a time, everything else can sit in a drawer until you're ready for it.
2. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. If a friend calls and interrupts a task, no worries! Your kids/husband/dog wants some attention, give it to them! It's important not to let your pursuit of a completed to-do list take over your life.
3. Be realistic, don't try to conquer everything. If I wrote a list of absolutely everything I wanted to achieve, it would be about a mile long. It's important to acknowledge that some things belong on a wishlist, and perhaps it's a good idea to make one for when you find yourself with some free time.
Have you got any list-keeping tips? I'd love to hear about them, leave a comment!