6 Tips to Help Finish a Todo List

to do list

I’ve been working like a crazy woman on my todo list this summer.  It’s pretty big, including building a block retaining wall around a flowerbed that’s about 65 feet long, hauling in about 30 yards of mulch, replacing the stairs going down to the basement, and more.  Okay, the stairs thing is Hubby’s job – I’m the official supervisor/gopher on that one.  Then there’s the pile of sewing projects that has been growing, and the regular house maintenance to keep up on.  In addition, I need to get school supplies ordered in the next day or so, pack to go up north for a while (not to worry, I’ll still be posting to the blog  :D), plan a trip for later this fall, keep up on the books for church and recovery center, figure out how to schedule time for being assistant bookkeeper for another organization, redo my friend’s kitchen with her, finish our basement…..

It’s enough to drive a girl insane.

How do I manage the list without running screaming for the hills?  Here are some tricks.

1. Write a Master Todo list – I don’t mean write down every dream project that you ever conceived.  Just write down what really needs to be done.  If you’re easily overwhelmed, then check out step two.

2. Pick out the top 3 tasks on the list, and write them down separately.  Put your master list away and don’t look at it until you’ve finished the items on the Top 3 list.

3. Break your Top 3 tasks down into smaller steps.  For example, my mulching project needs the following things done:

  • spray RoundUp to kill the weeds
  • hitch up trailer, pack up kids, go buy a load of mulch
  • return home, shovel mulch out of trailer and spread
  • sprinkle Preen on mulch to ensure no new weeds appear

What I’ve done is spray the weeds, then have been working on a smaller step cycle of bringing home loads and spreading them.  Rather than let weeds pop up, I’ve been sprinkling the Preen on each new area as I got it spread.  It’s been a long hot summer of shoveling wood shavings, but I’ve got the majority of the job done.  Some weeds have popped up where I haven’t covered yet, so I may have to go back to the RoundUp step.  By doing the job in small steps I’m chipping away at it (no pun intended lol) and should have it done in 4-5 more loads.

4.  Structure your tasks in such a way that once they’re done they’re done.  This is not always possible, of course.  I will have to mulch again.  I’ve been laying it thick enough now that next year I’ll only need to bring in a few loads as top dressing.  I also told Hubby that I have a goal of getting the landscaping done in the mulched area (there are plans for a patio and pond there someday) so that more area will be taken up with that and I won’t be spending so much quality time at the sawmill.   Lord willing, we’ll be able to reach that goal and this is the last time I’ll face such a monumental task.

5. Keep plodding through in small steps and DON’T GIVE UP.  This is probably the most important point.   Sometimes those todo lists get so big and so long that I get overwhelmed and think I’ll never do it, so then I quit.  That’s when I get stuck with the guilt for quitting and I still have that unfinished task hanging over my head.   Finishing even one small item can feel so good!  Sometimes I write down little chores on my list just for the joy of crossing them off.  Try it!  You may like it.

6. Have an accountability partner or group.  Tell a trusted friend or group about your plans.  If people know what you’re working on they can cheer you on, encourage you to keep going, and celebrate with you when you’re done.

I’m off to get another load of mulch.  🙂

Earnest Parenting: advice for getting the home organized.

Image courtesy of JenGallardo via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Manila Office Space January 26, 2009, 11:25 pm

    Very nice.That tips are useful.

    Reply
  • Amy February 3, 2009, 11:47 pm

    Manila Office Space, I’m glad they’re helpful!

    Reply