|No to-do lists on vacation, which is why I missed a post last week. As you can see, I was busy.|
When I got wind of Megan Flatt's free workshop, The Art of the Well-Crafted To-Do List, I had two thoughts:
1) I loathe to-do lists (I do, I really really do).
2) I might not hate a well-crafted to-do list.
So I wanted to know a little more about what a well-crafted to-do list looked like and sent Megan that particular day's to-dos. Here's her take on how to redefine and conquer:
One of my favorite sections in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, Kara and her co-author, Laurie Kocanda, talk about "Filing To-Do List Bankruptcy." They talk about how, as busy moms, we need to limit the amount of things we commit to doing on any given day, even when it comes to our own to do lists.
I COMPLETELY agree with their idea of “Triage Your Day”. I call the sticky note strategy, if you write your day’s must-dos on a sticky note, you really can't fit many more than five things, it serves as a good reminder of what we can accomplish in any given day.
Even with my own strategy of limiting my to do lists, I too can get carried away and overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done. So, I completely understood what was going on when Kara sent me a copy of her actual to do list for the day and asked for a little help filling her to-do list bankruptcy or what I call A Well Crafted To Do List.
Here is her original list:
-Clean carpet (from a potty accident)
-Walk 4-month-old puppy
-Make granola as a hostess gift for the friends we will be visiting
-Prepare and freeze the vegetables I got from our CSA this week that we won't be able to eat anytime soon
-Plan birthday party for my soon-to-be-10-year-old twin girls
-Make chocolate zucchini bread for the trip
-Water my dying plants
-Clean off my desk
-Send a package of forgotten items to my girlfriend and her family who visited two weeks ago
-Write in my journal
-A 30-minute alignment workout
Whew! I’m exhausted just looking at her list, but I can completely relate, mine often looks the same! Kara was also getting ready to leave on a trip, which always ups the need-to-do factor.
Here are a few things I noticed about her list, (and probably mine and maybe yours sometimes too!)
The Cinderella Factor
First, did you notice where on the list the two items that were specifically for Kara fell? That’s right, the last two spaces.
Moms are hardwired to take care of everyone else. We put everyone else's needs above our own. I call this the Cinderella Factor. Remember, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother never said she couldn’t go to the ball, she just told her she had to finish an exorbitantly long list of chores first, so when she couldn’t get everything done, it was Cinderella’s own fault.
I try to get into the habit of putting something just for me at the very top spot on my list everyday. This can be something like a workout, a pampering event like a pedicure, time with friends or working on something that is important to me, like my writing.
Apply Triage Factor
I think the triage method is even more important when you are getting ready to leave on a trip. So lets look at Kara’s list and see what we can cut out!
We all love to give and receive thoughtful hostess gifts, but is there a way to combine a few of the to dos into a hostess gift AND a family to do? Perhaps instead of making granola and zucchini bread, you could make a double batch of one thing and use that as the hostess gift? However, unless you really love to bake, maybe cut out ‘homemade’ all together. Maybe a lovely scented candle, or send an email ahead of time that says you are looking forward to the visit and would love to take your friend out for coffee once you are there.
If your girlfriend left things at your house two weeks ago, she probably won’t miss the things for one more week, so I would table that until you return. I also suggest lumping errands together around places you are already going to be, so is there a post office near one of your kids activities?
If you are afraid of forgetting some of these tasks you put off, schedule them for a specific day further out. I use an app on my phone that allows me to assign tasks a ‘due date,’ that way if I think “return kindergarten forms,” but it doesn’t need to be done before we leave on our vacation, I can schedule it for the following week and get it out of my brain, but off my day’s list too.
My next suggestion is find things that re-occur on your list over and over again, and figure out a system or a way to automate them. My husband recently bought me a beautiful orchid for my birthday, the woman at the shop told me to put in two ice cubes once a week, and that would be the right amount of water. It is brilliant, because now every Saturday morning I put in two ice cubes and it’s done! Dying houseplants will need to be watered again, can you automate the watering by picking up those little self-watering 'sticks'. Then you just have to keep the little stick full about once a month and it waters the plant for you!
So, my new version of Kara’s list would look like this
-30 minute alignment workout (Something just for you in the very top position)
-Write in journal for 10 minutes (self care does not have to take long to be self care!)
-Clean Carpet (this was a pressing issue)
-Pack a basket of vegetables from CSA box to take as a hostess gift
-Laundry (necessities for trip only then fold and put directly into suitcases)
Ahhh..that seems a lot more manageable. Like a to do list on a budget.
I did love Megan's suggestions (Hello Watering Sticks!) and thought you all might too. How did it all pan out? Well, as you might suspect I got to that 30-minute alignment video, despite being low on the list (one thing I don't do is put items in order of priority, which I should). I did the video while the granola baked. I scraped making zucchini bread.
I cleaned the carpet from one mess and then did it all over again later that day. See, that's my problem with to-do lists: you write down what you need to do but always--ALWAYS!--there are unexpected surprise tasks that come up!
I did both, prepare and freeze vegetables for later and pack a box to take on our trip. (Pats self on back.)
I walked the puppy, I did the laundry, I called parents of the kids coming over to celebrate with my twins (no formal invites).
I didn't get to writing in my journal, the plants, my desk or the package, but I did write in my journal first thing the next morning, then swiped my desk and made sure the plants got a drink before we left town later that day. That package to my friend will get in the mail today (I promise Laura!)
Megan says to make sure your to-do lists are meaningful, efficient and actionable. What's more, she says a well-crafted to-do list just might help those of us who are perpetually challenged by being on time. This problem, she says, isn't because we're sitting around watching episodes of Real Housewives, it's because we pack our schedules too full and underestimate the time we actually need for our tasks. Guilty!
If you need more ideas on how well-crafted lists can make your life run more smoothly, take Megan Flatt's free week-long workshop (Sept 2-6th) to learn the Art of the Well Crafted To-Do List. You’ll receive daily prompts, and list making worksheets via email and conclude the week with a live implementation webinar to put it all together in real time. Register for free here: http://www.findyourmamagroove.com.