If you wish you had more hours in a day, you may find these tips super helpful. Declutter your schedule, remove the excess commitments, and streamline a game plan that you can refer to every day.
Easy tips to help you towards living a simple life with a to do list that is helpful rather than overwhelming.
Isn’t it funny? We all have the same 24 hours, yet there are some people out there that seem to get so much done in a day compared to others.
Maybe you know someone like this. They always have a neat and tidy home, bills are paid on time, dinner is made every single day (who does that?!), they have kids….little kids and even work a job. How are they able to get so much done in a day than you are?
The answer may just surprise you a bit. And, good news, it doesn’t mean you will have to start waking up at 2 am every day.
The secret to getting more done in one day is pretty simple and it all comes back to my favorite word EVER. Decluttering.
But this time, instead of decluttering your home, we are going to declutter your schedule.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
There are so many things we do every day that are cluttering up our daily action schedules. Things that need to be done, but do not need to be on our to-do list. Routine items that are hiding the important tasks that need to get done.
Think about that for just a second.
Let’s say, for example, you have 9 tasks that need your attention today.
- Make the bed
- Do the dishes
- Fill out loan documents
- Start dinner
- Sign papers for a field trip
- Iron Hubby’s shirt for work
- Feed the dog
- Set up a budget for the month
- Call mom for her Birthday
Some of the tasks on our example list are quick and easy while others require more time and attention.
When you have a list like the example above, it tends to give equal importance to everything on it. Meaning, the chore of making the bed appears to be just as important as filling out loan documents.
It can also be easy with this style of list to do the simple tasks first. This is because we want to be productive each day and that means checking items off of our list.
I want to change your mindset with your list and instead of having a goal to check off as much as you can, you instead have the goal of getting the most important items done first.
Easy in theory, yes, but how do we put this new thought process into action?
We revamp, prioritize, and schedule our lists and our days to get more done.
This is the secret sauce to getting more done every single day. It’s so incredibly simple and works better than you may realize. Just by tweaking your to-do list, you will find that you are not only able to get more done but you are more focused and less distracted.
How to Declutter Your Schedule
I like to break things down into steps. I find small steps when done one at a time can result in big changes. Work your way down each step and create a schedule for the week ahead that is the helpful tool you need to get more done.
Step #1 Do a brain dump
Now, if you have been here before then you may know just how much I love and rely on doing a brain dump. If you are new here, then let’s take a look at this super important step.
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is the process of getting all the things that are taking up space in your head down onto paper. When you write something down, you are in a sense giving it a voice and that allows you to stop worrying about this task because you know you are taking a step towards getting it completed.
This action helps to cut the stress that a cluttered mind always seems to bring. Take right now for instance. Are you reading this article word for word? Or, rather, is your head in another place thinking of something else that needs your attention while your eyes are only looking at the words.
A perfect to-do list will keep your head present and in the moment so you are better able to focus on what you are doing right here, right now. This will also keep you from having to reread paragraphs more than once or having to ask a friend to repeat what she just said.
By always being in the moment you will absorb more and forget less.
How to do a Brain Dump
- Take a piece of paper and pen. Find a spot where you can work uninterrupted.
- Write all the tasks and “to-do’s” that are floating around in your head right now.
- Get it all out and all down on paper. No matter how small or how large a project may be.
- Continue writing until you feel you have a list that is complete.
Step #2 Prioritize your list to get more done.
If you stop and take a look at your brain dump list I am sure you will find some minor things with some pretty important tasks mixed in. What you need to do now is to separate the important tasks so they stand out front and center where they belong.
How to Prioritize a To-Do List:
- Take a highlighter and go through your list from step #1.
- Highlight the items that need your attention first. I am talking about any tasks that either have a deadline or are pressing on your mind.
- If you find you have some tasks that are a high priority and others that are still important but not as much, you can use a different colored highlighter and go through your list again.
You can have as many colors as you want to make this system work. I find that 2-3 seem to work best without being too overwhelming.
- PINK-top priority
- YELLOW-medium priority
- NO COLOR-no priority
Step #2 Delegate the most important
Now, I am not telling you to pawn your to-do list off on your spouse or kids, although that would be so awesome! What I mean by delegate is to assign each task on your brain dump list to a particular day.
How to Delegate a To-Do List:
- Go through each item on your list.
- Choose the most important items that have a deadline for the week ahead.
- Assign a day this week to make sure each of those important tasks get completed.
- Continue until you feel you have scheduled out enough tasks for the week without overwhelming yourself.
Delegating is an insider tip and one that will have you getting so much more done in a fraction of the time. By assigning a day for each priority task you remove the nagging in your head allowing you to work on the list with a completely focused mind.
Step #3 Set a time
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than beginning a project only to find it is taking longer than I had imagined. This is just so frustrating to me and I am left with only three choices.
- Do things half hazard and be happy with it.
- Finish it another time and risk forgetting all about it.
- Give up without completing it.
The funny thing is we can prevent any of this from happening with one simple step. Set a time for each priority task.
How to Prioritize Tasks on a To-Do List:
- For each highlighted item, write an estimated time for how long you think it may take to complete.
- Do this for each task.
- You can write minutes, hours, days, or a combination.
If the project is longer than one day will allow, then on your schedule write:
- Project “name of the task”-part one
- Project “name of the task”-part two
- Project “name of the task”-part three
By knowing just how long a project is going to take before you dive in will let you know when you need to start it in order to see it to completion
Step #4 Make sure you actually finish before you check it done
I have this friend we will call her Sally. She would always say things like. “My house is completely cleaned, I just need to dust.” or “I have all of my holiday shopping done, except for my Husband.” or “We are completely debt-free, except for one small credit card.”
The funny thing is, this to her was DONE.
She believed she did just enough to complete the item on her list and she was ready to move on. But, what did that actually leave her with?
A whole bunch of unfinished high priority tasks and twice as much unnecessary items on her to-do list. Items that she now needed to finish in order to complete her priority tasks.
I cannot tell you how counterproductive this is. When you tackle a task you need to get in, get out and completely finish it before you check it as done.
Step #5 Set your day up for success
Does this sound like you?
You head down to the bathroom to collect the dirty clothes, on the way you see a drinking glass in the family room. You go in to pick it up and notice a few DVDs on the TV stand. You collect those and put them away. Next, you see the pillows are on the floor so you pick them up and put them back on the couch. Then you grab the blanket and put it away as well. Finally, you take the glass into the kitchen and put it in the dishwasher.
Oh dear, the sink is stacked with dirty dishes.
You get busy loading up the dishwasher which is now full so you run it. While you are there you grab a cup of coffee take a sip and think….what was I doing again???
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Daily distractions happen to the best of us. The trick is to find a way to keep our heads focused and in the game. This is the key to productivity.
Staying on task will, in turn, allow you to get more done.
The easiest way to do this is to use block scheduling. If you are new to this style of productivity, you can ready how to get started with block scheduling here.
What is block scheduling?
Block scheduling is blocking out times during your day to focus on a certain task, project, or chore.
You do this on your calendar in a color that stands out so your can visually see the commitment that you have planned for the day ahead. This process alerts you mentally that you need to be fully focused on the task until the time block is up.
So for me, I like to block out 6-8am for writing. This means every day I know new content will be written for my readers to enjoy every single day. This also helps me to work on autopilot. I do not need to worry that my writing won’t get completed because it has a spot mapped out each day.
Blocking out sections of time in your schedule is HUGE.
- Messy house? Block out 3 hours every Saturday and know it will always get done.
- Behind on your bills? Block out a few hours each Friday morning and there is another important task off your list.
- Long list of errands? Block out an afternoon after work to run all of your errands for the week and no more forgotten tasks.
Since I began block scheduling I have gotten so much more done. There is something motivating about a ticking clock that pushes me to be focused and on task until my block is up.
Step #6 Start and finish your day right
I cannot tell you how much a morning and evening routine will completely change your to-do list. By doing a few chores every single day you will be amazed at how much more time you have available to use on other things.
Think about it this way.
Do you always have laundry on your to-do list? What about dishes? Is there clutter greeting you each morning when you wake up? How about making your bed? Or making all the beds?
We all have these tasks to perform each day. By making a morning/evening routine you will do these things on autopilot and can put your focus on the important tasks that are highlighted on your list.
How to Create a Morning Routine:
- Make a list of easy tasks that you can do before you start your day.
- Write a time that you feel it will take to complete that task.
- Add up all the times you have listed so you can see when you want to wake up.
- Choose a wake up time that will give you room to do those easy AM tasks before youi begin your day.
- A few ideas are: Make the coffee, load the dishwasher, make your bed, reset your family room.
- Keep a list on your bedside table until this routine is a new daily habit.
There are no rules here. Just try to keep your routine to a reasonable time. You do not want to be faced with a 2-hour routine each morning. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish is 15 minutes before anyone else is up and awake.
Step #8 Procrastination
I am a notorious procrastinator. Crazy right? I would rather postpone a big chore in favor of the easier ones. Easy is fast. I like fast. If this sounds like you I have a little tip that just might help.
Look at your to-do list right now. Do you see things on there that have been on your list for quite a while now? Chores or projects that you dread so much that you keep skipping over them?
I like to call these little pests Back Burner Tasks.
Back Burner tasks or BBT’s are things we keep putting on the back burning telling ourselves they will get done eventually. The problem is they never really do.
Our goal now that we are becoming more productive is to get those BBT’s off our list and DONE.
How to Complete Back Burner Tasks:
- Go to your list and see if you see anything on there that resembles a Back Burner Task
- If so, BBT next to it in big bold letters.
- For the upcoming week or month pick a day on your schedule that you know is a free day. One that is free of distractions (the kids are all in school) a day that you can focus all your attention on something without interruption (hubby is at work).
- This will be your BBT day.
- Your goal is to get that BBT done and off your list.
This tip alone will get more done than you ever imagined. Why? Because getting a long overdue project or chore that has been cluttering up your head for months completed is a huge motivator and will light a fire under you so you will want to get even more done.
Seriously, just try it.
These 8 tips are all you need to turn the clutter and chaos in your mind into an actionable and productive tool. One that will guide you through your day allowing you to get more done than ever before.
Declutter your schedule and you will see how easy it is to go through your days. Dump it, prioritize it, assign it, and complete it. You will be amazed at how much more you will get done every single day by doing this and how much free time you will now have to do the things you truly enjoy.