One of the great things about being a work-at-home or stay-at-home mom is that you get to make your own schedule. However, the lack of structure can make it hard to be productive. After all, there’s no boss waiting for you to finish your to do list or a school bell telling you it’s time to move to your next activity.
I’ve never had a hard time coming up with things I wanted or needed to do (you, too?), but sometimes actually getting them done is a different story.
Why it’s hard to finish your to do list
When you’re busy at home with kids, work, or whatever projects you have planned, it’s easy to get side-tracked with all the urgent things that surround you. Things like hungry kids, or piles of laundry, or Facebook (ha!). But if you only do the urgent things, then the important things, things that help move your toward your goals, won’t get done. And that’s a frustrating place to be.
That’s why YOU have to make room in your life for the important things.
The urgent things will always get done (I’ll bet you don’t have any hungry kids at the end of the day). But the important things can easily be pushed aside over and over again, especially if there’s no external structure that requires you to make them happen.
That’s why you have to be the one to make those important things happen.
I have always been an avid list-maker, but I was still having trouble working through everything on my list and making sure certain things didn’t fall through the cracks. Recently, I started using a different format for my to do list and it has worked wonders for my productivity!
This to do list is meant to be filled out each day.
First thing in the morning (or sometimes the night before), I fill out the day’s plan. Throughout the day, I refer to it, add to it and cross things off.
5 things I love about using this to do list format.
- It prompts me for all those little areas of life like what I’m making for dinner or if I need to remember to tell my husband something.
- There are only 10 lines for “to dos.” If my to do’s don’t fit on these lines, I am probably going to have a really hard time getting them all done and I probably need to prioritize better.
- Since I’m filling out a new sheet each day, I am re-writing things like goals and daily tasks. This takes just a few extra seconds but is a great reminder of what I’ve decided is important.
- The perfectionist in me hates leaving tasks undone. Sometimes I end up doing one of my to dos just so I can cross it off the list even though I’m feeling lazy.
- It forces me to be honest with myself about what I want to get done. I re-enter any to dos that were left undone from the previous day. If I find myself repeatedly doing this, it’s a helpful trigger to either get it done already or decide if I should take it off the list altogether. After all, it does get annoying to copy the same thing over for 5 days in a row.
I keep the day’s copy out on the kitchen counter or on my office desk and have trained myself to look at it whenever I find myself wandering around trying to decide what to do next (ahem, not that that ever happens…).
I refer back to the plans I made during my weekly review to help me keep on track with my goals for the week.
Download a copy of the today’s plan printable by clicking the graphic below.
- Make a new list every day.
- Make sure to transfer over things that were left undone from yesterday.
- Don’t let only urgent things fill up your list. Make time for important things, too.
- Be honest with yourself about what you want to get done and what you can get done.
- Remember that each day is a new day and a fresh start.
Do you use a paper to do list? What’s your favorite way to be productive?