April 24

Do You Have More Stuff to Do than Time to Do It?

Time Management


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What’s on Your To Do List?

Or maybe I should ask, how many things are on your to do list?

If there’s say, more than 20, then you have more stuff to do than time to do it in an average week.

Yes. I said week.To Do, Time

Not day.

You can’t possibly get 20 things done in one day.

OK. You can.

But only if your list looks like this:

  • Breathe – all day
  • Sit down
  • Walk around a little bit
  • Use your phone
  • Pick something up and put it somewhere

How About a Realistic To Do List?

First, you should have two lists:

  1. A dump list, preferably for the month. We don’t need a dump list for all time forever and ever. One thing at a time, OK?
  2. A to do list for the current day. Guess how many things are on it? THREE. Yes, you read that right. Now if you are Miss Overachiever, and you get all three done, you can add another one.

The object here is not to exhaust you, or to see who can get the most done in one day.

The object is to get the important stuff done that needs to be done today or very soon, and then to live your life.

If you are the type who needs to put household chores on a to do list, like wash dishes, make beds, etc., then that’s perfectly fine. That’s your daily cleaning list and should be separate (and short).

Anything extra – like making an important phone call, going to the dry cleaners, or baking 1,000 cookies for the school bake sale (go to the discount bakery instead) – are your to dos for the day. And only three.

Setting Your Priorities

OK. This is how this works.

You have a dump list for the month: a list of all the things that you would like to have done by month’s end.

And you have your daily to do list.

Each night, or each week – whichever works for you – you take a few items from your dump list and add them to your day.

Let’s say you have these things on your dump list:

  • Wash the windows
  • Take the dog to the vet for his shots
  • Borrow your mom’s sewing machine and make some new curtains
  • Go to lunch with your cousin Betsy – you don’t like her -but you’ve been promising

You want to get the most important things done for sure, and go down the list from there. So cousin Betsy may just never make the cut.

The dog’s shots, however, are pretty important and probably have a time frame around when they need to be done, so that should be penciled into your first week.

Washing the windows. Also important, but needs both a pleasant and cloudy day. Start with week two, and try to find a day.

And making those curtains?

That falls into your spare time when you are doing something for fun. See below.

Where are You Spending Your Time?

Another thing to take a look at is where and how you are spending your time.

Parents with small children limit the amount of screen time that the kids get; that’s even more important for older kids, who have things like homework to do, which is way more important.

Guess what?

You might be an adult, but maybe you’re someone who needs to limit their screen time too.

Think about it, and act accordingly.

Maybe it isn’t screen time for you.

Maybe it’s just getting up and moving. Finding the motivation.

I get that. It’s hard.

Getting up early is definitely worth it. It’s not fun, but it’s worth it.

Even if you have a job and have to get up early, you could probably benefit from setting that clock a little earlier. Even 15 minutes can make a difference, unless you’re just laying in bed.

Come on. You’re a grown up. You know where you’re wasting your time.

Try to focus instead on making the most of the time you have.

I promise, if you cut out the time wasters, and work on getting your stuff done, you’ll have time left at the end of the day.

And you can do whatever you want with it.

Like making some pretty curtains for the kitchen.


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    1. That happens a lot, actually.

      Start by prioritizing what’s urgent and important and put those first on the list. At this point, you’re probably already at the point where you feel that there is more to do than you have time to do it in.

      You’ve got a few options here:

        Get some help. I know you’re going to object to that one. We don’t live in the 50’s anymore. Anyone who lives in the house can (and should) help. Even toddlers can help put away toys with a little help.
        Eliminate some of the less urgent or important tasks. Be ruthless. Cross them off.
        Tackle what you can as you can, which might mean sacrificing some other things. Sandwiches for dinner for a few days, everyone starts using their towels two or three times before tossing them in the laundry or wearing their clothes more than once (in fact, most of them should be doing their own laundry), settling for a quick swipe over the floor with a damp mop instead of the usual mopping you do.
        Take a look around you and figure out what the worst problem is and start with that. For a lot of people, it’s clutter. Concentrate on that one thing and let the rest go for now.
        If part of your problem is outside activities or commitments to others, cancel them. Now. Tell them they don’t fit into your life right now, and you’re sorry, but you won’t be doing it anymore. Maybe in the future if things change.

      Put yourself first.

      Figure out how much time you have to offer and what you can do, and then do that and nothing more.

      Will awful, terrible things happen?

      Probably not.

      Will people be mad at you, disappointed?

      Yep. They’ll get over it.

      You can only do what you can do in the time you have. Do the important stuff and let the rest go.

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