Ask any busy woman how they manage and most of them will share with you a very intricate planning and executing process which likely includes to-do lists. Rarely do any of us make it through life without needing to list the many things that we have to manage, and as busy moms, we multiply that exponentially.
Between the children’s schedules and that of a career, business, ministry, or volunteering we have a million things to schedule out. On top of that, there are meals, and cleaning, and groceries. The Mental load is EXHAUSTING!
So how do we manage this overwhelming amount of activity? Well, with to-do lists. The problem is, we have lists on top of lists, and we never seem to get a good handle on it! That’s because many of us are making at least one of the 5 most common daily to-do list mistakes we will share with you in this post. And don’t worry, at the end of the post, I’ll share with you my fave remedies for these common to-do list issues!!
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What is a daily to-do list?
I get it, if you are reading this article, you are probably wondering why I would insult your intelligence with this, but hear me out, understanding what a daily to-do list is and isn’t is epically important to know how you can use yours most effectively. A daily to-do list is a list of tasks that we need to complete during the day, usually broken down into morning, afternoon, and evening. These are responsibilities that we must complete. They are prioritized, purposeful, and intentional.
5 Daily to-do list mistakes you’re probably making
Now that we have a standardized understanding of what a to-do list is, let’s get into the top five mistakes you may be making:
1 -You don’t write your daily to-do list down
This one is more of a situational problem. Sometimes there are so many things to do during the day, that we just don’t have time to sit down and prioritize our tasks. It’s crazy how many times I have ventured into a grocery store with something in mind, but get distracted by all the fun junk food along the way.
The easy remedy to this is writing it down! It takes me about 20 minutes a week to plan out my to-do list, divide and prioritize. I usually only use my signature to-do list printable and a pen to get my list together, and I always make time to do it.
2 – You don’t prioritize your daily to-do list tasks
One of the worst things I see so many moms doing when creating a daily to-do list is to make one that has every task on the same level. There is no priority of what needs to be done first and what can wait. Time is precious!! You have exactly 24 hours on any given day.
The remedy for this is to use a minimal management approach. Take a survey of your tasks and determine what HAS to be done by you and then what can be delegated, outsourced, or automated. When you embrace the mindset that you do not have to do everything (nor can you do it all), then it becomes easier to organize the things on your list in a way that allows you to also prioritize rest.
3 – You keep adding items to your daily to-do list without an ending point
You may say, “I plan on doing everything on my list today!” And you are right! You have planned for the entire day to complete all of your tasks, but have you ever thought about the end goal? If we’ve not planned for an ending point, then we are just gambling on how many items can be accomplished in a given day.
Therefore our daily to-do list must include a schedule to end. This way we can know what we will be working on at the end of each day.
The remedy: This one takes a bit more foresight, in the fact that we want to be realistic with setting our goals for the day! I know it is tempting to just add things to your list for today as they come, and I understand that some things ARE that important, but many are not!! You have to understand that your stopping point is not just for you to be done, but you are stopping to have time for intentional rest and cultivating more calm. It’s also nice to feel as if you have completed your list for the day!
4 – You only plan for the current day and not the week
The next mistake many people make when trying to create a daily to-do list is keeping your list short term and plan only for the day instead of carving out space to create a to-do list for the week by taking your big goals and breaking them down. For example. Let’s say you have the task meal prep on your to-do list. This task often includes, A) Finding meals to make B) creating a shopping list C) Grocery shopping D) Cooking and packaging. You could do all of this in one day or you could break up each task over the week.
The remedy: To get past this to-do list mistake, simply set aside time to plan your week with goals you’d like to accomplish. Once you have a list of goals then you can divide those goals into tasks that can be completed throughout the week.
5 – Not keeping your daily to-do list with you
The last mistake that you have probably made when making a to-do list is keeping it in some secret place that is not convenient to you. Whether it is in a notebook or an app on your phone, if you can’t access it when you need it, then what is the point?
The remedy: Compile your daily to-do list in one place that allows you to have easy access to it and keep your daily to-do list with you! The 2 best ways I’ve found for this to be effective is by using our to-do list planner which is pocketbook-sized and easily fits in my purse or using a to-do list app on my phone.
My favorite to-do list apps are Todoist and Trello.
I used Trello for years and it allowed me to organize the things that I needed to do pretty well, but in the last year I have switched over to Todoist.
The main reason for the switch was the fact that with Todoist, you can share your daily to-do list with anyone you like. For myself, that was key to being able to delegate and outsource some of the mental load I was carrying as a working mom!
Additional things you can do to make your daily to-do list more efficient
Now that you know what you may be doing that is harming the efficiency of your to-do list, here are a few additional things you can do to make sure that you not only complete your to-do list more often but it’s done efficiently.
1 – Use a checklist that holds you accountable
I like this idea because for me it helps keep my thoughts in order and know what has been completed and what still needs to be done. I think most of us all have tasks that may take up our time but we don’t realize how much time it takes us to finish them. Using a checklist makes it much easier for us to see when an item has been completed. And as a bonus, it helps us to see if we have taken time for intentional rest and relaxation throughout the day.
2 – Set a time limit
Setting a time limit for each task on your daily list is a great way to help keep you focused. A good rule of thumb is to create a block schedule broken up into 15 – 30-minute increments. However, I also like setting myself a timer and allow myself 10-minute breaks in between sections of the list for intentional rest and relaxation!!!
3 – Ask for help!
I cannot say it enough. Delegation is the key to getting things done and not losing your mind. consider ways you can ask for or get help in each task on your to-do list.
4 – Reward yourself!
This last way to be more efficient in your to-do list also why it’s so important to have a stopping point each day! When you have a stopping point and then a reward for quitting at the time (regardless of what’s left) you encourage yourself to get back to it full speed tomorrow, because your mind, body, and soul know in the end, you will prioritize it.
If you want more to-do lists and journal printables that will help you maximize your time, function more efficiently, and be happier then check out my journal pages resources here!!! I have designed so many stylish daily worksheets and weekly planners that will change the way you function.