Take this one to dance class. Take the other one to basketball practice. Laundry. Scheduling social media. Editing pictures for the next blog post. Cooking dinner…..I get it.
It can be crazily overwhelming and you may be screaming in your brain daily:
Why do I never have enough time to do what I want to do?!
Well, girl. I’m going to say this as gently as possible….It’s all your fault.
The reason why you don’t have enough time to do things, is because you’re spending too much time thinking about the things you have to do.
You and every person has what’s called a locus of control, which simply means you can only control the things you can control. You can’t control your daughter getting sick, but you can prevent it by feeding her healthy foods and making sure she gets enough exercise and rest.
So, stop thinking about all you have to do, get a pen and paper, and start planning out your To Dos. Really, planning is synonymous to prevention. So, prevention is the solution to all your problems.
Let me break it down.
In order to be financially healthy, you tell your money where to go, right? At the end of the month, you don’t want to end up with not enough money for all your bills because you went on a shopping spree at Target without setting a budget. Well, this is prevention. You are preventing yourself from the stress of struggling to pay your bills by budgeting your money and directing it to the right budget categories.
The same goes for your To Dos. You don’t want to end up with an unfinished list of To Dos at the end of the day, everyday, so you must plan not only everyday, but every week, and every month. This way you can tell your time where to go instead of your day controlling you, allowing you to be tossed around like kernels in a bag of popping popcorn.
But, here’s the thing with regular To Do lists. They. Just. Don’t. Work.
Writing down your To Do list feels good. You’re writing in your cute little notebook or planner all the things you have to get done. But how many times do you have a To Do list, only to look at it at the end of the day with numerous tasks still unchecked?
It’s because while also writing down what you need to do, you need a few other things too. Let’s get into the 3 easy adjustments you can make to your To Dos that will transform your schedule and maximize your productivity.
1. WRITE YOUR TO DOs INTO CATEGORIES
Correct me if I’m wrong, but your To Do lists look like this, don’t they?
• Pay power bill
• Get diapers and wipes
• Grocery shopping
• Follow up with Kim about post collaboration
• Update About Me on site
• Finish Editorial Calendar for the month
• Schedule social media for the week
• Doctor Appointment on Thursday
• Volunteer at shelter this weekend
• Review goals
Well, that’s the first problem. Yes, you’re getting all the clutter out of your head by brain dumping it all on paper, but now it needs some structure.
Instead of writing out a long list of To Dos, try putting them into categories. There are many different types of categories you could use. Here are a few examples:
Time To Complete | 5 min, 15 min, 30 min, 60+ min
Type | Calls, Emails, Errands, Biz Admin, Blog, Personal
Life Blocks™ | Planning, Follow Up, Project, Event, Reflect
Life Blocks™ are categories I created to organize To Dos. Any To Do that has ever existed, or exists now, fits into one of these Life Blocks™
Pro Productivity Tip: Keep all your To Dos in one place like a paper planner or an app, then separate by Personal, Business, + Other tasks
Separating your To Dos into categories allows your brain to quickly identify groups of like things.
It’s like when you’re organizing in your home. Putting similar items together makes them easier to find AND makes your home more attractive; therefore you are more likely to want to live there. Like your home, you want your planner to be an inviting and organized place, so that you are more likely to come “home” to it and use it.
Lastly, have no more than 6 categories because then you’ll just be searching through too many lists instead of too many To Dos and it defeats the purpose of separating for efficiency.
2. PLACE YOUR TO DOs
Next, you need to tell your To Dos where to go. Don’t just write a list, and hope everything is going to get done. You have to be specific and place your To Dos into action. This can be done by simply putting them on a schedule and in the order you want to get them done.
I’ve been most successful using time blocks. Each day is divided into blocks of time. Some use 30 minute interval blocks; others use a 3 block day: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening; I use a 6 block day.
This 6 block set up is perfect for any woman who needs a little extra time for herself and for her business.
And particularly, as a newfound work from home mom, this schedule is helpful because my new customers, my kids, will throw curve balls in my schedule up-field and downfield.
It takes a lot of stress away to visually carve out those blocks of time. I can accomplish something rather than squeezing it in during the day at a specific time or forgetting something throughout the course of the day like editing my about me description or budgeting for the household.
Lastly, you need strategies to ensure you’re staying focused on what you have to do at that moment. Multi-tasking is for the birds. No…really. Focus is where it’s at.
Focus on one thing at a time because it’s better to be a master of one thing, than a clumsy juggler of many.
Productive and successful people like Tim Ferris, best-selling author of 4 Hour Work Week, told us that, “Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”
In order to focus, you need to incorporate these 3 strategies:
No More Than 6 or 7 To Dos On Your Schedule Each Day
I know for myself, with my two full-time jobs of running and managing my business, while also being a work from home/stay at home mom, I get overwhelmed if I see more than 7 To Dos on my list. So, to prevent the stress, stick to 7 To Dos a day. That includes work and home tasks like taking your child to a doctor’s appointment, meetings, or writing blog posts.
These 6 or 7 things don’t include To Dos that you do routinely, like getting ready for the day, or cooking if you cook everyday.
If you do something routinely, you brain is already trained to do that thing, so no extra energy is being spent to “add” it to your main To Do list.
TIME IT BABY
I am easily distracted, which is why I have to write early in the morning, like 5 AM early, and it’s also why I absolutely must use a timer during the day to time my To Dos.
If I didn’t use a timer, I would be reading blog posts, perusing Instagram, or playing Rocket Ship with my kids ALL day. You know, where you lay on your back, put their belly on your feet and shoot them in the air? Ok, anyway, I’d be doing these time sucking, but fun, things without any strategy to keep me focused.
So, I use a timer. I used to use my phone’s timer, but now I use an app on my laptop called the Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro method of time management is based on the idea of short bursts of focused work with breaks in between.
Each work burst is 25 minutes with a 5 minute break in between.
I time myself while working on projects like writing blog posts, my kids activities, etc because I found that this helps me focus on the task at hand.
This app and method has seamlessly become a mainstay in my routine. Plus you can change the time if you want to time a task for more or less.
The best way to focus is to decide on your top 3 priorities every month, every week, and every day. 3 for your yourself + family and 3 for your business. Here’s the system you can roll with that will keep you on track and soaring towards your goals over and over again:
• At the beginning of the month, reflect on and evaluate your last month, look at your goals, then decide on your top 3 priorities for the month.
• Break down each of those 3 priorities with all the mini To Dos that it will take to complete the priority To Do.
• Next, put a star next to the “Pivot” To Dos. These are the To Dos that if not completed, you will not be able to move forward in checking off the To Do.
• Now, write down all the To Dos that need to happen after the To Do to wrap it up, so that it is truly complete.
• Then, schedule all the To Dos in your calendar. If you are using a paper planner, make sure to also schedule the pivot To Dos in an app or digital calendar like Google Calendar. It’s best not to rely on our brain for important things to remember; make it easy on yourself. Plus, the reminder apps were created for a reason!
Just watch what happens when you instill these strategies. Your life and business will be magically transformed. You will feel less stressed and in control…well..at least most of the time.
Remember to be flexible. This is a system of prevention to streamline your responsibilities, but it’s not meant to create a set in stone schedule. It would be impossible even if you tried! Our plans don’t always work out how we want, but they always work out for the better.
If you’re interested in getting a system to streamline your projects and tasks for every month, every week, and every day, I have a FREE 5 day time balancing course for ya.The Mompreneur’s Life Block™ Guide is a step-by-step time saving system that shows you how to use Life Blocking™ to organize and schedule your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and projects, so that you can effectively manage your household and run a successful business.
Thanks for having me and I truly hope this was useful for you!
Shadé Shakur is a mom of 3 who believes we, as women are built to create beautiful things, whether it be DIY projects, businesses, and even children. She is passionately approaching her zenith as she DIYs her family and business into empires + streamlining a life, family, and work balance while inspiring others to do the same.