I came across this comment in an Australian Women’s Magazine recently. 71% of Australian women make a To Do List. We make To Do lists to get our thoughts down on a page, to make sure we don’t forget anything, to clear our heads to pay attention to the task at hand, right?
But only 8% of us complete it everyday? Isn’t that a tiny, itty bitty number?!
Given this statistic, I would think that this makes women stressed, anxious and worried. Most of all, doesn’t this make us feel like we are failing? As women, workers, colleagues, mother’s and partners?
This made me think that we have the To Do List all wrong. I think we are just using a blank sheet of paper to dump our brains of everything we need to do for the next unforseeable future just so we can tick it off. It’s a great concept unless we never tick it off and it becomes a massive burden and weight on your shoulders. So I’m saying dump the lined paper with little check boxes, and instead open up your calendar.
If you have any more than 7 things to do each day, you are setting yourself up to fail. Experts say that more than 7 things to do each day, will cause you to feel overwhelmed, and more likely to not do any of the things you needed to do. My suggestion is to open up a calendar. It can be one you carry around with you with a day-to-day view, a monthly view on your fridge or use your work inbox program.
Write 3 things down that you need to do that day. I’m talking about the 3 things that are most important and the most dreaded. The things you want to do the least, and focus your mind on doing those things today. Not the 20 things you need to do before the week is out, divide your time knowing you have the entire week ahead of you. If you have 20 things you need to do, set these out at reasonable, achievable times over the next 7 to 8 days. Put the things you don’t want to do the most at the beginning of the week.
And what happens? More often than not, 3 things is achievable and is completed in no time. You can get these done in the morning, and then you have a whole afternoon to kill. So what else did you want to get done? Did you want to do the groceries on Thursday, but might as well do them today? Did you want to start your washing tomorrow but can throw a load on today? Did you want to check your emails and have some me time, and you now have an hour spare to do it? So you’ve actually checked 3 things off your list that you had pencilled in for the rest of the week? Great success!
I found the best example of this for me was my housework. I would do this on a Saturday morning. This gradually turned into Saturday lunchtime. Which turned into Saturday afternoon. Which turned into maybe cleaning the floors while dinner was simmering on the stove that evening. But have you ever noticed how happy you are and how much energy you have on a Friday, when the whole weekend is ahead of you? I would work from 7.30am to 4pm on this day. Head home well before my husband and scrub our house from top to bottom for 2 hours. Voila! The result is a clean house, and it doesn’t feel like the weekend has even started! This left me a whole weekend to do whatever I wanted without feeling guilty about it, removing the weight from my shoulders. Not only that, I would feel much more productive on those weekends, as I was then able to get to the tasks that are put aside – like washing the windows – and these things are the real weight off your shoulders. Well for a person with OCD like me anyway. 🙂
Obviously you can’t do this every week, we all have a life and most Friday’s call for a drink down at the pub until the late hours of the evening, but you get the idea?
By making your To Do List achievable, you live in a space where you are being successful in what you achieve each and every day. Suddenly, I’m not anxious or worried or feeling like a failure. Suddenly, I realise I’ve done everything I need to do and I have the whole day ahead of me, so why not continue to keep moving and achieving? In no time at all, you are Superwoman at home and in the office.
So I challenge you. Make yourself a statistic. Become the 8%.
What will you do to make your week easier, and help you cross off each task on your to do list each day?
And a side question that I’m also interested in… Are you the 19% that doesn’t have a to do list?