Have you ever completed every item on your to-do list? If so, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back because that is truly amazing. Now, if you’re someone who has never been able to do this, don’t feel badly! You’re in good company, as most of us are unable to get everything on our to-do list done! In fact, the likelihood is that your to-do list will always have something on it, and that is OK!
I used to be that person who would scramble to try and get everything done, whether it was work related or personal. I felt this intense pressure and drive to get everything on my to-do list accomplished and when I was unable to meet this goal, I would beat myself up over it. During this season in my life, I was anxious, overwhelmed, overworked, and honestly that pressure I felt being put on myself…..was being put on me by ME! Sound familiar?! I was causing myself all of this additional stress and angst, and for what? So I could feel accomplished? So I could feel successful? So I could brag about all of the stuff I got done? This pattern of behavior wasn’t serving me and I needed to make a change. Fast forward to now, and I no longer let my to-do list have that kind of power over me as I have learned more effective ways to manage the items on my to-do list!
Want to be able to do the same?
Start here with these 3 simple, yet effective tips!
Shift Your Mindset
It’s all about mindset, guys! Once we change our thought pattern, we are able to change our behaviors. I was gauging my level of success on how much I was able to accomplish, when really this was making me feel worse about myself vs. better. For example,“If I don’t do every single load of laundry by the end of the weekend, I have failed as an adult.” or “If I don’t get dinner cooked tonight, I’m a crappy wife.” Maybe a little dramatic, BUT I guarantee some of you have had similar thoughts! As a society, we have created these types of social norms as a way to gauge success, when in reality, it’s not a one size fits all model to follow because no two lifestyles are the same. So, stop following this trend and create your own.
Our thoughts are powerful and often times we are the ones adding additional stress to our lives because of what we feel we NEED to do or HAVE to do. Next time you look at your to-do list and feel impending panic, stop, breathe, and ask yourself:
- WHY am I feeling panic?
- WHY do I feel I need to get all of these things done?
- WHY am I stressing myself out over this?
The answers may surprise you. More often than not, when asking these questions, we find the answers are really not as big or important as we made them out to be in our minds. You probably do have a lot of laundry to do. Or, maybe the dishes need to get done or you have to go grocery shopping. These sound like simple tasks, but let me tell you, these simple tasks can cause a lot of stress and anxiety when life is hectic and busy. So, instead of feeling that immense pressure, show yourself some grace and compassion.
Instead of, “I NEED to cook dinner tonight or my family will disown me..” reframe to “I will order takeout tonight, still get my family fed, and feel less stressed as a result.”
Instead of, “I NEED to get the laundry done this weekend..” reframe to “Let me see what laundry absolutely has to get done and I’ll do that load while the rest can wait an extra day or two.”
Instead of, “I NEED to do the dishes tonight because society says having dishes in your sink is bad…” reframe to “I am going to put my needs first tonight and that includes spending time with my family vs. an hour doing dishes. I’ll do them tomorrow and there is nothing wrong with that.”
You’re allowed to tell yourself what you actually want to hear. That is ok sometimes. Stop feeling as though you need to do things and figure out what is actually applicable for you and your lifestyle. Plus, taking time for rest is going to allow for better productivity in the long-run. Just saying.
Manage Your Priorities
This blog post is the perfect example of what I am talking about in regards to priorities. I love blogging. Absolutely love it. It brings me joy. I find it peaceful. I love writing. I love being able to share helpful tips and information with my readers. Up until earlier this year, blogging was a priority for me and never felt stressful. I made sure I set aside time each week to work on posts and generate content and since it was a priority, I made sure it was on my weekly to-do list. Then, earlier this year, life happened.
I still had blogging on my to-do list, yet found myself not doing it because I simply didn’t have the time to dedicate my attention to it fully. One week turned into two, which turned into four, and so forth. I had a moment of panic at first because I couldn’t believe I wasn’t making time to blog. It was sitting on my to-do list, yet I wasn’t crossing it off each week as I typically did.
Then I had my ah-ha moment! I realized I wasn’t making time because it was no longer the priority at that time and quite frankly, with everything else I had going on, it couldn’t be. And that was ok. It took me a moment to realize this at first, but it really was ok. The world didn’t end. My business didn’t fall apart. People didn’t reach out to my in anger, demanding new posts. The world kept spinning.
Now, I do have the time to blog again. Things in my life have settled and I am able to re-priotize blogging again. However, I don’t feel badly that it took a backseat for a couple of months because it what I needed during that time. We all go through different seasons in life and as a result of that, our priorities shift. What may have been important to you a month ago, may not be as important now. Roll with these shifts and transitions. Don’t set limits and guidelines for yourself. Just accept that life is going to ebb and flow and as such, so is your ability to manage the things you need to do.
Set Realistic Expectations
We simply cannot prioritize everything. It’s not possible. Instead, each day, identify 1-3 things you absolutely need to get done. Anything else you get done will just be a bonus. Setting smaller, more realistic goals is going to increase the likelihood of you actually being able to accomplish those goals.
Also, be mindful of what is going on in your life. If you’re going into a busy season, that’s probably not the best time to add additional tasks to your to-do list. You’re just going to set yourself up for stress and frustration otherwise by trying to do “all the things!”
Managing expectations means also being mindful of your lifestyle.. and not comparing yourself to everyone else (I’m looking at you Instagram!) Social media is the WORST when we are trying to get our lives together because everyone else appears to have theirs together. When you’re making your to-do list, focus on just you. No one else. The only expectations which matter are the ones you have for yourself. That’s it’s.
I promise you it’s ok that you won’t get to everything you need to and I promise you the world will keep on spinning despite this. I promise you everyone else isn’t as put together as they like to appear to be. Life is busy. We will always have things to do. Think about it, the things which need to get done always get done one way or another, right? Be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can!