Ever since I was a little girl I would always fill my plate too full (figuratively, of course – unless we’re talking about cake!). I would take on too much, not sleep, get grumpy and end up sick. This was a pretty regular circle I would put myself through. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about what I take on. I try not to do too much or over-commitment myself. These days I don’t have time to get sick. I no longer just have to worry about myself. I have a family who needs me. Mommy doesn’t have time to lay in bed for a day to sleep.
I’ve shared how I stay on top of everything before using a handy notebook. My process is still pretty similar, but I have made a few tweaks and my productivity has skyrocketed. Even with being a wife, mom, running a household, working full time and going to school. I get so much done in a day – it’s crazy! My 20 year old self would be jealous.
Here’s what I do in my notebook:
MASTER TO-DO LIST
I create a master to-do list. Usually it’s just a brain dump. I keep 2-3 (or more) pages blank for my master list. I write down everything – no matter how small or how big, or how expensive it’s going to be. As new projects come into my brain, I write them down. This helps a lot when trying to focus my attention to something specific.
For example, I was trying to study for my Certified Financial Planner exam that is coming up. This always seems to be the time my brain starts thinking of thousands of things to do. I keep my notebook near turned to my master list page and jot down what pops into my mind. I get it out of my brain and then I can stay focused on my task at hand – studying.
RUNNING GROCERY LIST
I have a running grocery list in my notebook. This way if I’m doing my makeup and run out of makeup remover, then I can write it down. Or if I’m out and J texts me he’s going to need more lunch meat for next week – I write it down. I tend to keep my notebook with me wherever I am. If I’m in the kitchen, it’s on the counter. If I’m running errands, it’s in my purse. If I’m at work, it’s on my desk.
I tend to go grocery shopping every two weeks. So I pull out my notebook to see what random items need then I prepare my meal plan and create the big grocery list. I also am a little compulsive and make my grocery list in order of the store, but this is so I can save money and not get distracted.
DAILY TO-DO LIST
The biggest change I’ve made in using a notebook is taking my master-list and breaking it down to a daily list. Having something for each individual day has really helped me get more done. I highly recommend to everyone I talk with to use a daily to-do list. It will help keep you focused and on the right path to reach your big goals.
Each morning once I get to work, the first thing I do is grab my notebook. I add my number one goal to the first line. For me, it’s to workout. I have been trying hard to bump up my workouts and to make it a habit. So that’s what goes down first. Then I look at my work calendar to see what meetings or client tasks I need to get done. Those are listed next. Finally, I look at my master to-do list to see what tasks I can break down.
For example, on my master to-do list I have to create a blog post three times a week for the rest of the month. After all of my work tasks are written I will add one or two personal tasks to my list. My goal of creating new content for the blog is easy to break down. I work on creating the post one day, edit and create images the next, then post. So in two days I can create a new post. Some days it may take more or less time to finish one blog post, but you get the idea.
USE IT EVERY DAY
I get out my notebook every single day. Even on the weekends. This helps keep me focused on my bigger projects. For instance, we’re wanting to replace the baseboards and repaint our entire home. It’s going to be expensive and a big undertaking. But by breaking it down into smaller steps then it’s no so overwhelming.
I don’t plan on painting every room the same color, so one day I may decide which rooms to start in. Then I will pick out the colors and measure the room to determine how much of investment new paint will be.
The next weekend may be pulling off the old baseboards and prepping for paint.
Then we paint the rooms and buy new baseboards.
Next weekend will be painting the baseboards.
The final weekend will be cutting and installing the baseboards.
See how I took a big project and broke it into smaller steps? Seems super simple, but a lot of people get stuck on the big goal and it paralyzes them. They may see paint and install new baseboards and get very overwhelmed. Then it just sits on their to-do list for months. By breaking it down your cost is lowered and the commitment each weekend isn’t too time consuming. It may take 5 weekends to do it all, but that’s okay if it relieves the stress.
My notebook has really helped me get more done without making myself sick or crazy. If I don’t have time to get it all done, no big deal. I turn to the next day’s page and jot down what’s left. I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect, to not get it all done in one day. And that feeling has been amazing and a total game changer.