Laina Turner, Author
L.C. Turner, Author

Master Your To-do List

Do you master your to-do list or does it take control over you?

The dreaded to-do list. The long list that every Monday I promise myself I will work hard, obliterate, and crush my to-do list to get down to ZERO. I promise myself I won’t keep rolling things over from day to day yet I always seem to do exactly that.

My list gets longer and longer and I feel like I’m never going to catch up. Looking at the list makes me want to pour a glass of wine, which at 8 am on a Monday morning is a bad idea.

Until recently.

And it’s not just because I bought this super cute to do list notebook from the Lily Pulitzer store. Though I can’t deny it was a big help in my dedication to the cause. Though I have yet to use it. It’ so pretty it sits on my desk because I don’t want to use it and screw up. I know you’re thinking how did it motivate you if you’re not using it?

Fair question.

Master Your To-do List

Because I want to get my shit together so I can use it. Kind of like losing that last 5 lbs so your favorite jeans aren’t too tight and you can wear them. Seeing them sit around taunting you because you can’t get into them helps you stay away from the chips and wine.

I go through streaks of productivity. Much like anyone else. But I want to get consistent so I’m not always riding the wave of I got this to complete overwhelm. It’s exhausting.

I’ve read all the books and tips. I know what I need to do to stay on top of things. I’m sure we all do. Its actually doing it that’s the issue. It’s so easy to see that huge list and be like yeah, that’s too much. I’m going to watch Netflix.

I see mastering my to-do list as 50% organization and 50% motivation. You can’t have one without the other.

So what have I found to help me stay organized and motivated?

1. Write things down. I prefer the old-fashioned paper and pen thing but I also use trill. I learned long ago that keeping things in my head is a BAD idea. I like to think I will remember but the truth is I won’t. As scary as it can be to put it all down you will feel great satisfaction once you start plowing through it and checking it off.

2. Tackle what you don’t want to do most, first. I’m the queen of procrastination on things I don’t feel motivated to do. I love my job but there are aspects of blogging and being an author I don’t like. So I tend to let those tasks pile up. Then I get more and more anxious knowing they are looming out there. If I just do it and get it over with my life is a lot better. And usually once done they weren’t so bad in the first place.

3. Set a timer. While in theory, you might think you will force yourself to sit down and not get up from your seat until everything is done that’s not realistic. You’ll get tired, annoyed, and stop. At least I do and I’m going off what I know. I find it easier to work in short bursts. I’ll set my timer for 20-30 minute increments. Bust some things out and then walk around the house, get a drink, do a few jumping jacks (ok not really) and then sit back down for 20-30 minutes.

4. Batch tasking. I find myself much more able to stay on top of things if I group them together. I can’t jump back and forth between writing fiction, making blog images, and writing up notes for clients. It takes different parts of my brain. I used to think I needed to work on all tasks every day. I felt guilty if I didn’t. What I’ve found is if I organize my time and break things up into chunks where I might do all graphics on Monday and social messages Wednesday, I can be a lot more efficient. The only thing I do every day is fiction writing so I don’t get out of touch on my story. But even that sometimes it’s just 15 minutes. So I can touch it and feel connected. Sometimes it’s a full 8 hour day.

5. Don’t multi-task and turn off social media. Social media is such a time suck. Especially for this of us who need to be on it for work purposes. It’s hard to turn it off lest we miss something super important. But all it fades is take the focus away from whatever else you’re working on. Another reason I batch task. When there is one thing in front of you without distractions you’ll be that much more effective.

6. Outsource what you’re not good at. It’s hard to spend money. Especially when you’re bootstrapping your business. However, if it’s taking you 5 times as long to do a task that someone else could do faster and better you might want to consider it.

Your time IS money!

I’d love to hear how you stay focused on your to-do list!

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