You can never seem to check everything off your to-do list. Is it a you problem, or a system problem?
I got to chat with Erika Diaz-Castro on the Her Renewed Strength Podcast about exactly that! We discussed how to know when it’s time to change your time management system, an easy method to start trimming down your daily to-dos, and my new book (coming out in June 2023!). Read on for the details, or listen to the full episode here.
When it’s time to change your time management system
Whether you realize it or not, you have a time management system in place. There’s some kind of method to your madness. You have habits already ingrained – whether they’re good or bad!
So how do you know when your time management system is no longer serving you? You’ll need to take a good, hard look at your habits and ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing working?”
One way to know that your current time management system isn’t working is that you’re feeling intimidated by it, or it feels too complicated. So instead of following through, you start to procrastinate.
Additionally, if you find yourself scrambling to find little bits of information, that’s also a good sign it’s time for a change. Why? Because every time you have to look for something (like a password or a calendar), that’s time wasted.
If you’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and procrastinating, that’s when you know it’s time for a change.
Your to-do list is too long
Maybe that’s not you. Maybe you feel like your system is good, but you just can’t get everything done.
Start by checking your expectations. These might be expectations you place on yourself, or expectations others have for you. Often, the biggest cause for not finishing everything on our to-do list isn’t for a lack of productivity. It’s because the list is too long.
It’s unrealistic. The sheer amount of things we put on our plate for the day is too often IMPOSSIBLE for anyone (much less a woman who’s also a mom who works full-time and volunteers on the weekends… you get my point).
Fortunately, there is something you can do about that. If you’re someone who’s ending each day feeling like your to-do list is longer than when you started, I’d encourage you to make two lists:
- A To-Do List. This is your overarching bank of everything you need to do. Create this list first.
- A Today List. Create this list second, and create a new one every morning. This is the list of things you’re going to get done today only. Pull only the things from your to-do list that you can realistically get done that day. It should be no bigger than a Post-It note (and I don’t mean a Post-It with itty bitty writing on it!).
And if you get everything done on your Today List and you have some free time? Awesome! Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest. We weren’t put on this earth to cross things off of our to-do list.
Remember: we will never get to the end of our to-do list. Things multiply. Try to let go of your to-do list as a finish line, and instead, think of it as a conveyor belt where YOU get to choose how it moves and what you pick up and take off of it.
Need a textbook for time management?
Time Management Essentials: The Tools You Need to Maximize Your Attention, Energy, and Productivity is my textbook for managing time with purpose. In this book, I’ve included everything someone would need to know to be successful with time management, including:
- how to define your personal vision
- how to define your core values (and incorporate them in your calendar)
- how to get organized with a time management system
- how to get energized
- how to get enough rest (the most underrated productivity tool there is!)
We are not promised tomorrow. If you’re someone who is not living a life without regrets, or you’re not living the dreams you had for yourself… Now is the time to start. Now is the time to clarify your vision and purpose for your life, and begin taking action.
If this is hitting you in the feels… This book is for you!