Sticky note with to-do list

Too busy to plan? READ THIS.

Time Management

You’re busy – I get it. You have about a million things on your to-do list- and you even have a to-do item to consolidate all your to-do lists because there is so much on your plate it’s spread over several different lists.

What’s a woman to do when she finds herself in this situation? Our go-to response is usually to just keep DOING. It’s like we are so caught up in the swirl of our own busyness that there is no time to stop, breathe, or plan our day. But here’s the dilemma with that.

When you skip the planning, you end up exhausting yourself and burning yourself out.

Think of it like this – if you were driving all around to all these different places because you had a ton of errands to run, you wouldn’t just get in the car and DRIVE – you’d first make sure you knew where you were going. You’d pull out your GPS and plug in an address so that you could get around efficiently, without meandering all over the place with no a sense of direction.

But that’s what’s happening when we don’t plan. We are all over the place with no sense of a plan or where we really need to head next, and eventually we run out of fuel. Literally and figuratively. And now we can get anything done. Because we’ve exhausted ourselves. And the gas tank is empty.

We need to be more efficient and caring to ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to take a pause, a moment to plan out our day. What I mean by a plan is not to read over each to-do item, get stuck in the overwhelm of it all, and weigh ourselves down before we even get going. Because that won’t help us either.

What we need is a sense of direction.

We need to start each day asking ourselves, “what is the most important thing I need to get done?”

Then write it down. But not just on another to do list. And not just knowing it in your head. Because then it’s like this floating, gnawing thing in your head – like you have this annoying kid or sibling in your brain who keeps poke, poke, poking you saying “have you done that yet? Have you done that yet?” There’s no way you can concentrate on getting anything accomplished with that going on.

Identify the number one thing you have to get done and write it down.

And then the one or two other things that MUST occur. And then, pull up your calendar, and block out actual time for when you’ll do those things. Don’t skip this step. Then you can GO. But not until you’ve done the planning first.

You may be thinking, “but I have so much to do. Everything is important I can’t pick just one or two items!”

I realize you have a lot to do – but is thinking of it that way helping you? From my experience, it seems as soon as I tell myself I have 15 things that MUST be done that day, the overwhelm kicks in, and I run around frantically and it makes it hard to get any one thing done, let alone 15. And even if I do manage to get it all done – and at a decent enough quality – I’m so wiped out I’m useless the next day. And that next day, you better believe I’ll be telling myself I have 15 more things I have do to then, too. Only now I have nothing left to give.

That is not sustainable.

We need to think about our to-do’s from the long haul. Not just that moment, that day.

We need to set ourselves up for success by stopping, pausing, and planning what we can really get done, and then accepting that it means we will have a lot of things that may not get accomplished. And letting that be okay. Not letting that mean we’ve failed. But that we’ve taken the time to do the most important things, and we are respecting ourselves enough to not be a slave to our own to-do’s – but instead to take charge of our day, and our time so that we can continue onward without burning ourselves out.