I consider myself something of a master of productivity. I haven’t always been. When my oldest was a baby, I remember feeling like taking a shower on the same day I picked up the house was cause for the Mother of The Year Award. But when I chose the path of a large family and running a business I had to learn some productivity hacks. And today, I’m going to share my BEST tip for rocking out the to do list.
Do less and you will accomplish more!
It sounds crazy, but stay with me for a moment. How many days have you felt like you were hustling ALL day, but at the end of the day, your to do list barely had a dent. And you felt like you got nothing DONE?
It’s because you were task hopping. We are all prone to it. We start picking up one room, which leads us into another to put something away. That room also needs to be picked up, so we start working in there. And it takes us forever to get the house all picked up. If you are working, think about your emails. You come in and first thing in the day, you open up the email. You read and then you start responding. You start gathering information for clients, you take action on their requests and at the end of the day, you did what everyone else needed you to do. But not what you needed you to do.
An impossible to do list.
Every single day, my to do list is longer than humanly possible. I simple cannot accomplish everything on it. And I value my sanity more than I value crossing every little item off. So I’ve had to learn to do it differently. Here’s how I manage my to do list so that I can do less and accomplish more:
- I have my list categorized by the different roles in my life. Want to learn more about how to determine and define your roles? Check out my blog post It’s not my job. My jobs are Daughter of God, Wife, Mother, Business Owner, Household Manager. (Notice I didn’t say the housekeeper. I’ll tell you the key to this later on.)
- I brain dump into the different categories. Say prayers, plan date night, buy the trifold for the class project, client meetings, marketing calendars, and scheduling venues for our events all swimming in my head feels like pure chaos. But once I get in and sort them, it immediately feels much more organized.
- Delete: I delete anything that isn’t essential. It’s pretty common that we have things on our list that don’t have to be done, and truthfully aren’t that important. Social media has INTENSIFIED the social pressure to do meaningless things. Meaningful has a different definition for everyone. For me, elf and leprechaun shenanigans in meaningless, but hosting a campout on our property for the scouts twice a year is meaningful. You might be the exact opposite. Simply delete off anything that doesn’t move you closer to your life goals, and that doesn’t bring you an increase of joy. In the beginning you do a LOT of deleting. As you get better with this, you learn to say no to low value requests, and your brain dumps are cleaner to start.
- Delegate: one of my favorite Amy-isms is “It takes a family to run a family.” This is why I am the household manager, not the housekeeper. We have 7 people that create dirty clothes, dishes, and bathrooms. That means we have 7 people who can help to clean all of that up. My job is to have the master plan for how it all works, and then to delegate out individual responsibilities. Maybe I load the dishwasher while my husband drives kids to school and picks up the trifold for the project. Maybe the boys feed the goats. Maybe we ask our oldest to make dinner. It’s not so much who does what, but that everyone contributes and running the house is not all on my shoulders.
- Reschedule: You only have so much mental space! I have a policy that if I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to think about it. I’ve had a marketing campaign that I need to copy write. It’s been on the table for 2 weeks, but this week is the first time I’ve had space in my schedule to get it done. Rather than think about it and feel pressure for it, I simple scheduled time on my calendar and released the task until I had time to do it.
- Choose 6 essential tasks. Once you have deleted, delegated, and rescheduled, if your life looks like mine, there are still more items on your to do list than you can likely manage. Now we get to really prove that we can do less to accomplish more! We choose 6 critical tasks and that is our to do list for the day. Do those early in the day, and then anything else you accomplish after is like frosting to your cake.
The reason we accomplish more when we do less is that we get the CRITICAL tasks done. We do the high value things that will move us closer to our goals and contribute more to our success in life. When we try to do a lot of things, we spend our time doing less important things.
I’ve been running my life this way for about 10 years and let me tell you, it’s so much easier to be productive. I still have days where I slip into old habits, and those are the days I end up frustrated that I didn’t get more done. When I simply stick to my process, I find that I go to bed feeling accomplished and with a peaceful mind.
I invite you to try this crazy idea! Do less to accomplish more, and I think you’ll find you ENJOY it more!