How to Make the Perfect To-Do List (And Actually Get it Done)

How to Make the Perfect To-Do List (And Actually Get it Done)

Does your mind have a tendency to just keep running - so much so that you have a hard time going to sleep, staying asleep and you wake up feeling horribly tired and overwhelmed at the day ahead? This used to be the story of my life and will continue to be if I stay on top of my to-do’s and self care. Being a mother of three with my own business - when I find a way to manage the madness, I stick to it. So if you don’t like that overwhelmed and buzzing brain fog following you around day and night, listen up.

Reality Check. First of all, remember that you matter. And even if you are the super hero talented woman of the world - you weren’t meant to do it all. If you have a partner or older children, communicate with them your need for support and help so that you don’t burn out. You aren’t very useful to them dead, so it’s in their favor to show some love and help out.

Gather your thoughts. Start by writing out ALL the things that need to be done, from housework to business tasks, get it all on a sheet of paper that you’ll reference. I’m talking - everything that comes to mind. You can start it in the morning and keep adding to it throughout the day even. But when you’re ready, it’s time to ... 

Organize the craziness. Now you’re going to get another piece of paper - printer paper works great. Look at your list of crazy and notice the patterns. They all have general categories, don’t they? On your new sheet of paper, create columns for your categories. Common categories will be things like Home, Family, Business, Self Care, Finances etc. (I usually put car needs in the Home category and dental appointments in Family or Self Care etc…) If that’s too complicated for you - feel free to bring it down to just two categories: Life & Work. Once you’ve made your categories, it’s time to go through your first list of everything that needs to get done and start crossing them off as you direct them into their best categories.

Color code that list. Ok, don’t hate me. But this really works. I like to grab two to three highlighters and mark each task as Urgent/Priority, Soon and Non-Emergency. You decide how to do yours. Go with the colors and word connections that come to you most intuitively as that’s what you’re brain is going to notice and remember.  Not sure which tasks should be a priority because you’re freaking out about how important all of them are? Remember, that some of these things can be delegated. (ditch the perfectionism - we’re trying to give you your sanity back!) Then decide which items on your list are your Magic Musts. These are the very tasks you know will make all the difference in the world today/tomorrow/this week, that give you hope, help you breathe and generally leave you with a hell of a lot of relief and satisfaction.

Move the Magic Musts to your planner. I personally, mark my Magic Musts in pink because it feels lest intimidating than yellow. I feel a sense of creativity and power when I see them. And once I mark them, I move them into my planner onto the days they belong. I tend to do brainstorm and organize my to-do lists on *Fridays* because I want to spend my whole weekend recovering and not planning. This also allows me a solid look at what didn’t get done from the current week and what needs to be carried over to the next week. I place my musts onto the days that make sense. For example, I always check my marketing schedule and write on Mondays. Always. It keeps me on track and inspired. And then depending on if I’m creating a course, or have a project at home we’re working on, then I look at that week’s Magic Musts and decide which day’s to assign them to. After you’ve assigned your Musts, look at the rest of the lesser to-do’s on your list and simply write them in the margin of your planner, because it’s so important that you

Do not over schedule. This is about completing what you MUST complete. It’s about reducing your stress, sleeping and being happier while also learning to be more productive. So take the less urgent items on your list and happily place them in the margins. If you have time on your hands and you find yourself done early with time to spare, that’s when you dive into the other things. You are a human being not machine. You’ve got to regulate and respect your body. Over scheduling leads to fatigue, weakened immune systems, relationship stress, poor financial choices and burn out in general. Don’t go there.

Commit and finish. First of all, you’ve got to commit. Think of your sleep and how beautiful it will be to not have that persistent brain fog. Check your Magic Musts for the day list at the start of each day so that you know what you’ve got to do today. And once you’ve completed a task - cross it off and celebrate the boss lady inside you. Move on to the next task and repeat. Feel free to take it further and pay yourself for every task you complete. Maybe you have 10 big Magic Musts to complete this week. Maybe they’re worth $5 each (or $50, you decide!) At the end of the week, tally up your earnings and go do something kind for you. Get a massage, buy a new top, go see a movie. Whatever you do, do it for you, because you’ve really earned it.

I’m telling you, once I started doing this, my productivity went through the roof. And my sleep? Yeah. I fall asleep much faster and wake up far more ready to take on my day. Because I know what needs to be done, don’t need to overthink it and just get to do it. Also, it’s a way for me to see fast results for my efforts. I can see that I’m getting things done and I feel  more productive. And the more productive you feel, the more productive you actually become.

Inspired or helped by this post? Tell me! And then, pass it on. Because everyone deserves to feel better, live better and be the person they were meant to be.

Oh, and I’m always looking to hear new tips and ideas, so please tell me what you do to keep motivated and productive! What helps you reduce your overwhelm and still get things done? Tell me in the comments below!