to do list

Get Those To Dos Down On Paper

I had that day, you know the kind of day.  My daughter and I were home together most of the day.  At the beginning of the day, it seemed like we had so much time to be together- do some great things and get some of those household tasks done too.  However, we got to the end of the day and I realized that I had done nothing that I had thought of or dreamed of in my head.  As I reflected over the day, there was very little that I had accomplished either for my little one or myself.  Some days will be like that.  Some days we need to have a no agenda, chill kind of day.  However, on this day I had really needed and wanted to spend time with my daughter reading to her, doing learning activities with her , and some household things too.  However, I never put all of those to dos down on paper.  So when it came to the day, I was rather unfocused and didn’t really do any of that.  I was so disappointed.  

It’s not enough to have ideas.  You need to have a plan too.  I want to share with you my second post of 3 in a series about making the most of your time.  Go here to read the first post in the series evaluating when to say “no.” Let’s be frank.  Everyone is different about what makes them productive and focused about their daily tasks.  For many of us, though, it is really important to have a plan in print otherwise the time flies by in an unfocused way and at the end of the day we feel down about how our day played out.  What are the steps to getting those to dos down on paper?

Brain Dump:

You are going to love this.  This is an exercise that is so helpful and stress relieving.  But it also gets you on the road to making the most of your time.  Get paper out and your favorite pen.  Then write everything out that you have in your mind that needs to be done this week.  Or even longer, if you don’t like the idea of limiting yourself to just what you want to happen this week.  This dump can include all areas of life and to dos.  Make sure that it includes household but other things to, like what you want to do with/for your spouse, kids, yourself, etc.  The sky is the limit depending on what you have going on.  Allow a good 30 minutes to do this.  Then write and write without editing at all.  This does two things: 1)relieves your mind of the tension of keeping it all floating around in your head and 2)it makes what you need to do plain to see so that you can get it into a form where it will actually get done.

Organize the Dump:

Now that you have the mass of thoughts out on paper, let’s organize it in a way that is usable for you.  Let’s narrow it down.  There are a number of ways to organize your to dos from here.  There is either paper or phone/computer app.  Then on the paper or app you can do a standard to do list, mind map, or bullet journal.  Check-out the different options and see which one you think would meld best with how your mind works.  Then go back to your brain dump.  Next to each item on your paper write M (for any item that doesn’t have to happen this week but does have to happen this month) and then W (for any item that has to happen this week).  Now count up your items that have a W by them.  Make your that you keep it less then 30.  Then put a M, T, W, Th, F, S, or Su next to the W depending on which day you need them to happen. Now put your brain dump into an order that best fits with your needs either standard list, mind map, bullet list, or other for each day.  


Be Reasonable:  

Set aside your list for the month.  Look at your lists for the week.  Depending on how small the tasks are that you wrote down.  You shouldn’t have any more than 25 tasks down for the week.  This provides space in your schedule for 3-5 tasks per day.  Look at your calendar as you are looking over your to do lists.  Make sure that you are being realistic and the number of tasks down for each day is based on how many other scheduled activities you have on the calendar. The days go faster then you think they will.  It will just make you feel defeated if you put too much on the list and don’t get to half of it.

Do It!

This is pretty self explanatory.


At the end of a week, evaluate how you did getting your to dos down.  Did your to do list ease your mind, help you focus, and make tasks easier to get done?  Did you put the right amount of stuff down for the week and each day?  What needs to be done differently for next time?  Then tweak how you do it the next time to be even more effective for you!  

Celebrate the victory of getting those to dos down.  Getting them down on paper or app eases your mind and helps you focus to make your days more intentionally planned with the meaningful tasks that you want to be doing.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *