time management // list keeping

My Weekly & Daily To-Do List Method

DenaMarch 2, 2020

time management // list keeping

time management // list keeping

Hello, sweet friends! Happy Monday to you. This morning I am sharing an update about how bullet-journaling and list-keeping is coming along for me. It’s been a month now since I began this practice and, simply put, it’s working great.

One of my big struggles last year was feeling that I didn’t have enough time. I would end most days on the verge of tears, feeling terrible about not completing everything on my to-do list. I pleaded with God for more hours in a day. Which is obviously crazy, but there were a lot of times when I just felt desperate. What I wanted to get done versus what I actually got done never lined up. I became convinced that it was due to a failure on my part because I was not working hard enough or smart enough.

As 2019 came to a close, I spent a lot of time reflecting upon the cycle that I was caught in. I analyzed my to-do lists and compared them against the actual amount of workable hours that I have in a given day. What I realized was that my daily to-do lists were completely unrealistic! The reality is that I am a work-from-home mom. On a perfect day, when the stars align, I have no errands to run, and nothing unexpected pops up, I have two uninterrupted blocks of workable time: 9:15 to 11:15 am and 12:45 to 2:30 pm. All told that is 3 hours and 45 minutes of workable time each day. Sometimes I can squeeze in little blocks of work time outside of that, but that is not reliable or even truly productive.

In hindsight, looking back at the last few years, I can see that each day I tried to fit 7-8 hours of work into my less than 4 hours of available work time each day. Of course I was coming up short and feeling disappointed! I was setting impossible expectations for myself.

time management // list keeping

As 2020 approached, I continued to reflect and pray. It was around that time that I was reintroduced to the idea of bullet-journaling. I loved the idea of creating clean, beautiful lists that could help me set realistic goals and finally feel accomplished in my work. As I mentioned, I’m still refining my process, but I feel like I am gaining traction. I have yet to map out my monthly, quarterly, annual and strategic goals which I had hoped to have done by this point in the first quarter of 2020. But, I am giving myself grace. I am at the point where I am comfortable with my weekly and daily process, and constructing my longer-term vision is my main priority for March.

Each year, I buy my annual planner in February, once everything goes on sale. 😉 I spent all of January looking for the perfect planner and I found so many amazing and inspiring options. In the end, I chose a simple planner from Papier for my daily lists/appointments and a bullet journal for my weekly lists. (Both of those are linked in this post.) I also use my bullet journal for other things like meal-planning and habit-tracking. Now let’s get into my process.

My weekly/daily process is simple. I write out my long list of weekly goals in my bullet journal. I do this over the weekend prior to the coming week, or if I don’t get to it over the weekend, I do it first thing on Monday morning. My list usually has a combination of tasks in various areas: blogging, social media, housework, personal appointments, wellness, social, family and so on.

time management // list keeping

Once that is complete, I put my daily appointments and tasks in my regular planner. I pull these items from my longer weekly list or I add them naturally as things arise during the week. I do this each morning because it helps me to set my vision and intentions for the day. When an item is completed, I put a [ ] next to it. If an item does not get completed as planned, I put a [ > ] next to it, to indicate that it should be completed the next day. If I decide that the item is no longer relevant and I wish to remove it, I put a [ ] next to it.

time management // list keeping

This system keeps my to-do lists in order and it keeps me on track. The most important element to this process is making sure that my daily lists are manageable. I need to remember that I have just under 4 hours of workable time in each day. Therefore, it’s important for me to be realistic about what I can actually get done in that amount of time. That way I can check items off of my list and feel accomplished, instead of overextending myself and feeling badly about it.

time management // list keeping

Typically I schedule about 5-7 items on my daily to-do list. I try to make it an even mix of easy tasks (low hanging fruit), harder (more-time consuming tasks), housework tasks, family time tasks and self-care tasks. A lot of times things like family time and self-care will fall off of my plate if I don’t specifically make special time for them. In my eyes, those things are just as important as anything else and so I give them the same energy and weight as I do any other task.

I am wishing you a great Monday and a productive week ahead. If you need a bit of extra inspiration, check out these Monday quotes to get yourself in gear. I hope that you have found this post to be helpful! I know that I have been sharing so much about time management lately, but it’s where my head is at right now. In January there is still a lot of post-holiday craziness happening. But in my experience, the habits that we have in place by March truly set the tone for the rest of the year and I am really happy with where I am at.

Happy creating, friends! xo

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