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How many times have you been super excited to seize the day only to get half way through your to-do list?
The daily to-do list may seem like a simple concept.
You have things to do.
Write them down.
Rinse and repeat.
However, many people struggle with getting to the bottom of their daily list. Sometimes we add so many things on to our plate during the day that we end up with more things to do than we started with. (Those days are the worst, aren't they?)
How in the world do you eat healthy, work out, work for 8-ish hours, spend time with family, take time for self care, build your relationships AND get a full night't sleep at the end of the day?
Simple. You don't.
The incredibly insightful book 168 Hours: You have More Time Than You Think breaks down exactly why we all should stop planning by the day and focus on spreading all of the things you want to do throughout your week.
Your week is filled with unlimited opportunities to do everything that you want. However, most people create never-ending daily to-do lists that can often leave us feeling exhausted and unaccomplished by the end of the day.
I'm going to walk you through exactly how I plan out my daily to do list one full week at a time. This simple change allows me to get everything done over the course of a week without feeling overworked or overwhelmed.
Plan hard due dates first.
Some of your to-do list items have a due date that you cannot change.
For example, if you have a project to due on Wednesday you'll have to work on it on Monday and Tuesday. (You certainly don't want to be like the teenage me, who would be scrambling on Tuesday night to throw something together for me to take to school. One Science Fair I created a project titled Which Soap Suds The Best? I put soap and water in a bucket, swished it around and took a picture of it. #Embarrassing)
This is where planning your to-do list for you whole week at once really comes in handy because you're looking at a birds eye view of your week and can see further into the future beyond the needs of today and tomorrow.
Plan your essentials.
There are certain thins you have to do to survive, keep your relationships strong and maintain your health. These are things you know you'll be doing every single week without fail. So it makes sense to block that time off next.
Here are some examples of essentials. Decide on what works for your lifestyle.
- Grocery shopping
- Cooking meals
- Relationship building (with spouse, friends and family)
- (If you have small children) Homework, Reading and Bathtime
As you think about the time you have for these, remember you're thinking about your entire week. It's totally OK if you don't have time during the day to go to the gym 3 days a week. Push it to the weekend. Trust me, it still counts.
Let's be real... We all have to eat.
While you may not really think about it (because it's really a basic need) food can easily take up 10 hours of your week! There's thinking about what you want to eat, going to the store to buy groceries, prepping all of the food, cooking and finally eating your meal.
Build that time into your week... and find ways to optimize it.
For example, I try to make a big meal on Mondays and Wednesdays and eat the leftovers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This gives me more time to spend with my family or get a yoga session in after work on those days.
Do you see where I'm going with this? If you plan your week all at once, you can see where those pockets of time exists. You can now be intentional where you would've previously spent that extra time wondering what you're going to eat tonight, praying that you have the ingredients you need for that miscellaneous recipe you just found on Pinterest or scrolling Facebook.
Events & Appointments
Here's where things start to get a little tricky. Some weeks, you'll have random appointments that throw a wrench into your weekly routine.
It could range from a doctors appointment, parent-teacher conference, networking happy hour mixer or your BFF's Dirty Thirty Birthday Bash.
Put all of your appointments on your to-do list on the day they fall on. Then move your existing to-do items to around to accommodate these experiences.
For example, if you have a parent teacher conference Thursday night, you may want to plan to meal prep Wednesday night.
Set aside daily hustle time.
I don't know anyone that doesn't have their own side hustle these days. I'm using side hustle liberally. You could be running a blog, taking additional courses to boost your skills, building a business or training for a marathon.
All of these things take time to build if you want to make a meaningful difference. Make sure you block off time to work on them.
I choose to wake up early on a daily basis before work (from about 5-7AM) to work on this lovely blog you're reading right now. I also block off about 6 hours every Sunday to work strictly on creating products for the blog.
Don't skip your daily me-time Activity.
When you fail to plan (or plan poorly) the first thing that suffers is the time spent taking care of yourself.
Use Your weekends
Your week can quickly get stolen from you. When you're early in your career, networking events and working late can steal your weekday evenings. If you have a family, your kid's after school activities can usurp your afternoons.
You can still maintain your productivity and accomplish everything you want by shifting things to the weekends.
You can grocery shop and meal prep on Sundays. You can host a potluck to spend time with friends and family on Saturday nights. You can side hustle, take a class or serve your community on Sunday mornings.
THREE ITEM MAXIMUM DAILY
One mistake people make is cramming a lot of things into their schedule assuming they're going to work super hard, drink red bull and skip sleep to accomplish their goals.
This rarely works because you're betting on a Sunday that your Tuesday self is going to have enough will power to stay up late. This can be a hit or miss depending on whatever else happened that day.
Have you ever gotten mad at yourself for falling asleep when you had things to do? This is totally irrational, but we've all done it.
Give yourself a three item maximum on your to-do list for any given day. By doing this, you will make sure that you only put the most important and urgent things on your list. (If you're super gangster like me, you only put one thing on your to-do list each day.) This also gives you a fighting chance at finally crossing everything off your to-do list which will leave you feeling accomplished each day and ready to attack the next.
By planning out your days like this, you have unlimited time and flexibility to move things around like puzzle pieces until they fit perfectly into place. At the end of the week, you'll realize that by putting less on your plate on a daily basis, you will have accomplished more, gotten more sleep, spent more time with friends and family AND took care of yourself more. The time exists everywhere... it's your job to use it.
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