It’s Monday morning. A brand new week. You open your eyes, ready to face the day, face the week. Determination to get things done starts flowing as you hear the coffee pot kick on in the kitchen.
You swing your legs out of bed, set your feet on the floor…
And then it happens.
The crushing weight of all that you want to or need to or hope to accomplish this week – or even in the next hour!
The constant interruptions from your children whom you love so dearly but who have a special knack of throwing your thought process off so that it’s hard to get things done…
The feeling of failure before you even begin…
How do you do it!?!?
How on earth do you get everything done that needs to get done, take care of everyone you need to take care of, homeschool your children and make sure they are learning, and find time to reheat that cup of coffee that you forgot about 30 minutes ago in the process?
How do you do it all without doing it all?
How do you get it all done without losing your mind in the process?
How do you use your to do list to help you while making sure your to do list doesn’t turn into a task master and run you over in the process?
Or maybe you don’t have a to do list and you know you need to create one so you can get the right things done, but you don’t know where to begin…
Know You’re Not Alone
When it comes to tackling all the things on your to do list, there is one very important thing you need to know right up front:
You are not alone!
Hundreds upon hundreds of mommas are in this boat with you! Mommas that have a perfectly organized to do list. Mommas that have a thrown together to do list. Mommas that carry their to do lists in their head. Mommas that have an idea of what they need to do. Mommas that are so overwhelmed they can’t even begin to create a to do list!
It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a list. It doesn’t matter what’s on your list. There are lots and lots of mommas who struggle with getting it all done, but not having enough time to get it all done!
Now, I don’t say this to make you feel less important. I don’t say this to make light of your to do list and the things you need to accomplish.
But so often, we as mommas can fall into the trap of feeling like we’re the only one who is struggling with getting it all done. Then you start feeling guilty, which makes you feel worse and accomplish less… You can see how this turns into a bad cycle, right?
So the first thing you need to realize is that you’re not in this alone. But just realizing that you’re not alone isn’t going to change anything about that to do list, right? A simple realization isn’t going to make the things that need to get done magically disappear. It isn’t some magical fairy wand that waves over your tasks and magically gets them all done for you. (Although, some days it would be nice, wouldn’t it?) So, what do you do?
Determine Your Big 3
One of the most liberating concepts when it comes to to do lists is the power of 3. Just 3. 3 things at a time.
Now, don’t worry, this isn’t like Africa’s big 5! Rhinos and elephants won’t come crashing through your house destroying your cleaning job and smashing everything that ends up under their feet, creating even more work for you.
Instead, the idea of determining your big 3 is really simple: Look at or think through all the things you need to do. And as you look through all those things, pick the 3 things you want to accomplish today.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this one can be really hard! It can be intimidating to look at a huge list of things you need to get done and pick only 3 to work on! But here’s the thing: In narrowing your focus to only 3 things to accomplish today, you give yourself a do-able list. You break down your massive list from this mountain that feels like it’s crushing you to a small hike that will take you a bit further up the mountain than you were before you started.
And here’s the best part: If you finish the 3 things you picked, you can add another 3! You don’t have to stop at 3 things each day. But in starting out with only 3 things, you give yourself a stopping point. You give yourself the reward of completing your list. You give yourself a sense of accomplishment that will fuel you and make you feel like you’re making a dent in your list!
Put A Priority on the Time Sensitive Tasks
As you start putting together your list of 3 things to focus on, keep your time sensitive tasks in mind.
Oh, I know, it’s tempting to start organizing that junk drawer in the kitchen that you can barely close every time you open it to get something out. Or to start on that big project you know will take you multiple days to accomplish.
But don’t forget about the things that have a time limit! Don’t forget about the phone calls you need to make, events you need to be sure are on your calendar, and even the bills that need to be paid!
Make sure that you’re giving the time sensitive tasks – those tasks that have a deadline attached to them – the priority. Remember, the laundry might be able to wait for an extra day, but sometimes those deadlines just won’t wait!
Slim Down Your List
Now, I don’t know about you, but many times I want to feel like super mom. I want to be able to homeschool my children, run my house with precision, make home cooked meals for every meal, serve at my church and in my community, plant and keep up with a beautiful flower garden, make a vegetable garden actually grow (without killing it this time!), and keep my house clean while getting the chance to organize, write, read…the list goes on. But here’s the thing: I’m only one person! There’s no way I can get everything I want to get done accomplished in a day! Especially not with the size to do list I’m prone to create!
So how do you do it? How do you get everything done?
Well, after you’ve determined your big 3 for today and made sure that you are getting those time-sensitive tasks accomplished, the next thing is to slim down your list.
I know, I know, this one is hard! And I speak from personal experience on this one.
And yet, one of the most freeing things you can do is to take a few things off your list.
Now, this could be big home improvement project that needs to wait for a specific season of the year. This could be setting a project you’ve been wanting to do aside to wait until the season of life is right. It could be saying no to something you might want to do, but you know you don’t have the capacity to handle right now.
It could be as simple as asking for help.
Yeah, that part hurts doesn’t it? And yet, asking for help is one of the most incredible things you can do sometimes. Admitting you can’t do the work of 8 people in 1 day or even in 1 week.
But keep this in mind: Asking for help is not failure! Asking for help is realizing that you – as a human being – have limits. Oh, I’m not saying give up and do nothing at all! You still need to work on that list you have! You still need to take care of your children, to love on them, train them, and teach them. But you do not have to be the only one doing everything!
So go ahead, ask for help cooking dinner. Get your kids in the living room with you and work on matching those clean socks or folding those clean towels together. You just might be surprised what happens…
Expect the Unexpected
It should come as no surprise that motherhood is full of surprises. Messes get made and need to be cleaned up. Kiddos get sick and need time just to snuggle with mommy. Friends get in a bind and ask for help. You realize you’ve run our of milk and you need to make an unexpected run to the grocery store before you can make dinner. Tasks that you thought would take 20 minutes end up taking 3 hours. The list goes on and on…
Instead of getting mad and frustrated at the unexpected things – and let’s face it, that’s SO easy to do, right? – expect them! Expect that there will be days when things don’t go the way you want them to!
And celebrate the days that meet and even exceed your expectations!
Finding the Harmony
You’ve heard the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” right? It’s one that’s been around for a while, but the truth embedded in this statement is profound!
If all you do is work, with no time for relaxing or enjoying or even taking a bit of time for you to rest and relax and recharge, at some point you will burn out. Everyone’s burn out point is different, but you will burn out eventually.
The key to it all is finding the harmony. Now, many people say that you have to find a balance in what you do and while the idea they are trying to share is very similar, the word ‘harmony’ conveys the concept so much better! In fact, click here to dig deeper into this concept of harmony verses balance. You won’t be sorry!
You see, if all you do every day is work on your to do list, then you have allowed your to do list to become your master. It determines everything you do. You are bound to it and you start to feel guilty if you’re not doing something that’s on your list!
Can I tell you a secret? That’s not how it’s supposed to be!
Your list is there to help you. To guide you and keep you moving in the right direction when your thoughts get all jumbled up. It’s not supposed to turn into your master.
So, yes, use a list to keep you on track. Yes, get those things accomplished that you need to get done. But don’t forget to add in time for the unexpected. Don’t forget to add in some time for you. Don’t forget that you need time to rest and recharge and even – dare I say it? – sleep!
Make Your To Do List Work for You
Does your to do list have the potential to run you over? Yes, it does.
But here’s the best news: You have the power to make sure it does not run you over. You see, a to do list is a list of tasks. It’s a piece of paper or a note on your phone to help you stay on track.
And when you keep your focus on the things and the people in your life that are most important…
When you take things 3 tasks at a time…
When you release the guilt for not getting the work of 8 people done in 1 day…
And when you focus more on taking one more step in the right direction…
That’s when your to do list becomes a help to you. That’s when you are running your to do list.
And believe it or not, you can do it! Remember, a small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction! Take this one step at a time and you’ll get there.
- What To Do When You Crave Balance as You Homeschool
- What Do You Do When the Chaos of Life Surrounds You?
- Finding Your Perfect To Do List
- Dispelling the Myth that You Have To Do It All
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.