Sometimes it can feel like you’re rushing around with such a huge to-do list you never actually accomplish anything. As a parent, that feeling is often magnified by having to manage everyone else’s to do lists as well! Here are five tips to help you get on the right track to actually getting things done:
1. Write Lists That Work
Lists are a great way to remember everything that needs to happen, but only if they’re written in the right way. Writing endless reminders on scraps of paper will probably only send you backwards. Instead, follow these tips:
- Get into a system of either using one piece of paper per day, a simple document on your computer or a tool such as Remember the Milk.
- Split your to do lists by day and only include the tasks you think you can accomplish that day. Any leftovers will have to be moved onto tomorrow’s list, so don’t trip yourself up before you’ve even started.
- Prioritise your list and stick to it
- Include everything that you have to do that day on the list, even if it’s not to do with work or if it only takes two minutes
2. Use Incentives & Challenge Yourself
If you have a full day of tasks ahead, you may need some incentives to keep you motivated. Try and plan in a couple of short breaks, and do something enjoyable – e.g. call a friend or take a quick walk.
You might also like to use these incentives to get things done more quickly – for example: “If I get all this filing done in 30 minutes less than I’d planned, I’m allowed to sit and read my book in the sun for half an hour”. You can make the treat as indulgent as you want, as long as you actually accomplish a task more efficiently than you’d anticipated.
3. Break Jobs Down
If you fill your to-do list with massive tasks, you’ll probably never actually get around to completing them. Instead, break each job down into smaller tasks – as a rule of thumb you should be able to complete a task in two hours or less. If a task is going to take more than two hours, then break it down into smaller tasks. For example, instead of putting ‘Sort tax return’ as a task, break it down into more manageable bites, e.g. ‘add receipts to spreadsheet’.
4. Track Your Time
If you feel like your time disappears each day, try tracking where it goes! Keep a piece of paper handy, or a document on your computer’s desktop, and get into the habit of keeping track of what you’re doing and when. Don’t try and change your ways while you’re logging time; instead, wait a week or two and then review. With the hard numbers in front of you, you can easily see what’s taking more time than you realised and make the necessary changes.
5. Learn To Delegate
No one (not even you!) can do everything. Although it can sometimes seem easier to just do whatever job needs doing yourself, it might not actually be the best use of your time. If you’re really busy, before just going ahead and doing a task yourself stop and think about whether or not anyone else could do it for you. Of course you’ll need to take the time to delegate the job properly – which might take little longer in the short term, but think of all the time you’ll be saving in the long run.
Hopefully you’ll find these tips useful – I’d also love to hear your productivity tips too – do let me know via the comments.