Last week, we talked about the importance of creating a to-do list that was based upon your yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. If you’ve not read that post (or you’ve not set down and mapped out some specific goals), can I encourage you to do that today? It just might rock your world! Now, onto today’s post…
We all have a lot we need to do each day. And, if you’re anything like me, you probably have a whole lot more that you want to do in each day, too.
I was just telling my husband yesterday that I have so much that I want to do that it’s a problem. I have a laundry list of new skills I want to learn, things I want to teach my children, place I’d love to visit, subjects I want to research in-depth, projects I want to attempt, people I’d like to reach out to and befriend, ministries I want to support, books I hope to read, character I want to work on… there are so many, many good things in life to choose from that putting together a daily to-do list can seem daunting.
But here’s the truth we all have to accept: none of us can do it all. Collectively, we can do a lot with our lives and make a huge impact in this world. Personally, we can make a big difference over the course of our lifetime. But we all only have 24 hours in each day.
Our time is limited and our energy is finite. Thus, we have to pick and choose the best from among the good. And we have to realize that what might be the best for others will not necessarily be the best for us.
1) Decide Your Personal Priorities
Determining what to put on our daily to-do list begins with deciding upon our own personal priorities for the season of life we’re currently in. I recommend choosing no more than five to six priorities. These are the things you will wrap your life around and what will be the basis for the majority of everything on your to-do list and all of the yearly, monthly, and weekly goals you set for yourself.
2) Start With the Basics
Before you try to save the world, you need to focus on making sure you (and your family, if you have one) have clean clothes, food to eat, and proper hygiene and rest. You’ll be a lot more effective at your efforts in other spheres of life if you make sure that you take care of the basics first.
So, think through what must be done in the course of your day. This is not what would be nice to have done, but those things that are actually necessities. For the record, the list of necessary things that must be done in a day is usually fairly short for most of us.
If you’re caring for someone who has life-threatening illness, have a special needs child, or have a lot of little ones, then most of your day is likely going to be made up of basic things. While they might mostly seem menial and mundane, remember that taking care of the basic needs of others is a very important thing to be investing your life in — even though it’s exhausting work. Remind yourself of what would happen if you weren’t doing it and you’ll realize just how important your tasks are!
3) Pick a Few Bite-Sized Pieces to Tackle
Once you have the basics on your to-do list for the day, if you still have a little wiggle room in your schedule, pick a few bite-sized pieces of your goals to tackle. These will typically be things you can accomplish in 15 or 30 minute slots, so keep this in mind when breaking goals down into bite-sized pieces. If you can’t accomplish the bite-sized piece in 30 minutes or less, it probably needs to be broken down further.
4) Prioritize Your List
I’ve found it helpful to prioritize my to-do list by marking each item with numbers in the order of priority I need to accomplish each task. I don’t always follow it to a tee, since sometimes a block of time will open up during the day and it will be perfect for tackling a specific item on my list — even though it’s out of order. When that happens, I just go with the flow and am happy to have another item crossed off the list, regardless of the fact that it’s out of order.
That said, as much as possible, I encourage you to focus on getting the hard tasks done first. “Eat your frogs” early in the day and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment to carry with you the rest of the day!
5) Keep it Short & Simple
As I’ve talked about before, if you want to set yourself up for success, you need to keep your to-do list short. If you put 56 items on your to-do list at the beginning of the day, you’ll probably give up before you even start because you’ll feel overwhelmed at defeated.
It’s better to plan to complete a few things and actually follow through with those things, then to set out to accomplish 102 things and just run around in circles all day trying to start a bunch of different things and finishing nothing at all.
Free Printable Daily Dockets and To-Do Lists
Looking for some helpful printable daily dockets or to-do lists? Here are a few free printables to check out:
We have a number of free household customizable management planners available to download, including a customizable daily docket.
Ann Voskamp has a free Daily Planner available for download.
Download and print a free Weekly Household Planner and Goal Sheet from Only a Breath.
Download a Daily Plan of Attack Worksheet.
Print free Home Management Binder pages from Amy Bayliss.
My Day 5 Project Update
Bedtime: Made it to bed by 9:38 p.m. Woot — I’m slowly making progress in the right direction!
My Top 5 Evening Must Do’s: Done!
Wake Up Time: Got up at 5:04 a.m. this morning!
Day 6 Project
1. Did you determine your bedtime and 5 Evening Must-Do’s? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did on them last night.
2. Did you determine what time you’re going to commit to waking up every morning for the next three weeks? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did this morning!
3. If you haven’t done so already, pick 1-5 goals that you’d like to accomplish in the next year and break them down into monthly and weekly pieces, if possible. Start looking for opportunities to add in bite-sized pieces to your daily to-do lists, as you’re able. Let us know what these goals are in the comments section.