Efficiency is my love language.
There I said it :P
I am the lady who thinks 99.9% of meetings could have been emails, and who is always looking for a smarter way to get things done.
And I have zero chill about it :D
THAT is why I was delighted (yes, actually delighted) when a friend called, handed me her to-do list and said HELP ME!
It. was. LONG.
And it was giving her stage fright.
So here is the thing about a to-do list, they're just ok. They're a great tool, but if the tasks on them aren't connected to a greater purpose that gives them and their accomplishment real-life-meaning then as you may know from personal experience - will have ZERO appeal when you need to actually get things done.
Additionally, when they're too long - it becomes a "can't see the wood for the trees situation".
Where do you start? How do you start?
Some people like to just start at the top and work their way down - thats a great strategy if you just want to do SOMETHING but, its not an efficient strategy and it does not guarantee that you will get to the end of your day feeling any less stressed or satisfied about how you spent your time if all you have done is distract or exhaust yourself doing things that aren't really important.
So when I find myself faced with a monster of a to-do list, and only 24 hours in a day (as well as what may feel like competing priorities), here is how I take a second and tackle it in a way that transforms my day and leaves me falling asleep feeling at peace and accomplished.
1. Identify Boulders
The first step in coming up with an effective strategy for tackling your list is taking a look at your day or week and getting clear on how much time you ACTUALLY have at your disposal.
For some of us that may mean that we need to get real about the fact that we have a 9-5 with little wiggle room OR 3 littles at home with us with lots of wiggles, but still - very little margin for much else other than homeschooling or snack prep.
Boulders are responsibilities or commitments that are immovable.
Disclaimer: a lot of the "immovability" of your boulders is perceived. This step if often as much about recommitting to these immovable priorities or re-evaluating your commitment to them. Either way - the goal here is to get clear on how much room you have in your day or week to play with.
2. Create Time Blocks
Once you have figured out your non-negotiables, clear the deck - everything else is officially up for grabs.
This is where you may you need to commit to taking a look at your daily or weekly schedule with a fresh perspective.
Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you DO have enough time for what matters most - you are just not using it that way.
For me this has looked like realizing that if I need a block of silence - that the two hours before the kids wake up, or after they go to sleep could be put to better use.
It has helped me be more creative with my hour long lunch break.
And it has helped me realize that there are some things that I like to control myself (like grocery shopping) that I can delegate to curbside or amazon.
By the end of this process you should have identified and set aside time blocks (even if they are only an hour each) throughout your day or week that you can use in a different way that you've been using them before.
3. Name Your Big Rocks
This is where you get creative with and give meaning to that to-do list.
Big Rocks are the big, overarching goals or the VALUE that fulfilling certain tasks on your to-do list will bring to your life.
IF you can't do everything on your life, what is the ONE THING or cluster of things that you can't not do?
or asked differently:
- What thing/s will move the needle on helping you get to where you want to be in your life/marriage/parenting/career most?
- What task/s if done, would be total game changers for your life?
- What do you need to do to go to bed feeling deeply satisfied/proud/accomplished?
These are your big rocks. And you should only have 1 or 2 - for sure no more than 3. Everything else may be or feel important but be honest with yourself - it will be ok if they end up undone.
Pro-tip: I have found that for ME - my big rocks are usually the things I am avoiding doing, even if its just subconsciously.
Now... remember those blocks of time you've created in step 2? This is what you're going to do with it. Forget everything else on your list - put your head down and get your biggest rock knocked out.
If you get through it and you still have time blocked out - hit big rock #2, then #3 and so on.
You might get to the end of the day having not done the grocery shopping or having gone to the library - but you have paid the bills, handled that thing you've been putting off for weeks and even spent meaningful time with your best friend or your kids, then paying that library fine or eating cheerios for dinner seem like a great compromise.
At the end of the day, our time has been given to us to use and care for as a precious gift. It is our responsibility to steward carefully because once its spent its spent - we don't get it back ever again.
Additionally, wasting it on priorities that aren't really ours or spending energy dealing with bitterness and resentment because we have allowed other people to dictate to us how we use it isn't worth it.
While I would probably never advocate for anyone spending more time on social media -If you are feeling a little out of control of your calendar - and you can feel the stress, bitterness or burnout bubbling up as a result - you would probably benefit from all the resources in my FB community for women
who are using boundaries and self-stewardship to stay out of both bitterness and burnout - why don't you head on over there now - we can't wait to have you!