Working Mums : 8 Secrets to Downsizing Your To-Do List
It’s early in the morning. You can barely keep your eyes open and you really need a cup of coffee.
So, you go and make the coffee, then move on to making kids’ meals for the day, picking up the toys that were left all around the floor last night and getting yourself ready for work.
In the meantime, kids start waking up, running around and whining about anything and everything.
After a while, you realise the toys are on the floor again. Your coffee is cold and you haven’t managed to take a single sip of it.
And then you turn your head towards the TV, where one of your kids is watching Sleeping Beauty.
You think to yourself that you’d give anything to have those lovely fairy godmothers, so that they could just swish those wands around and make your house clean, meals prepared and kids dressed within seconds.
Well, no fairy godmothers here.
However, there are certain ways you can downsize your daily to-do list and make life just a little bit easier.
When making your to-do list, you should figure out what the most important and most urgent tasks are.
Also, create several priority levels and then place each task into the correct group.
That way you can make the harder and more time-consuming tasks top-priority and do them first.
Furthermore, this can help you see what you can or can’t do each day; if you have more than three top-priority tasks for one day, you might want to move some of them to another day or reassign them to somebody else, especially when they’re work-related.
There’s only so much a person can do, never forget that.
It’s likely you’ll get more things done in the morning, while you’re still fresh.
So make it your routine to go to bed and wake up 15 minutes or even half an hour earlier, so that you can finish some of your tasks before you go to work.
This also means you’ll be up before your kids for long enough to have that cup of coffee or have a shower without little feet running in and out of the bathroom.
If some tasks on your to-do list take several steps to perform, it might help to write notes.
That way you can break big tasks into smaller and easier-to-do chunks.
In addition, thanks to these notes, you won’t forget to do something.
For example, if you put your laundry into your washer and dryer, make a note to fold and put away the laundry later. If you have to finish a project, a note can remind you to send it to your boss after it’s done.
You can check off the notes as you do them, to see that you’re making progress with the tasks that take a lot of time, since they can sometimes seem to take forever.
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It’s perfectly fine if you can’t do everything yourself.
You may not have time for everything, but sometimes you simply don’t have the required skills.
So, see if you can assign some simpler tasks to your kids or your partner.
And consider finding paid help for the things you can’t do. Get professional English tutoring when things get bumpy at school, or a maid to help you clean.
After all, these are things that will be done better if you hire a professional.
And when it comes to work, talk your to-do list through with your co-workers, to see if they can help you, or simply give you advice on how to do it faster and more efficiently.
Make Smart Breaks
The things you have to do daily can leave you feeling overwhelmed and in panic.
Avoid that by making useful breaks.
You shouldn’t have a fixed time for your breaks, but rather schedule the breaks after certain to-do tasks; decide which ones you have to do before each of your breaks and stick to that.
Also, instead of taking one long break, take several shorter ones and make them count by getting energised.
Before moving on to the next task, have a snack, a cup of tea, or listen to some relaxing music.
Adjust Your List
Move the items from your list to fit your home and work schedule, as well as your free time.
Put the tasks in the order they can actually be done and remove the ones that don’t have to be done from the list.
Whenever possible, blend today and tomorrow’s tasks together.
For instance, if you make bigger batches of snacks for your kids or choose the clothes combinations for yourself and them for the whole week, you can save some time every morning.
Also, group tasks that are similar or bound to a certain time and place, so that you can do them quicker and within the same time frame.
Make Two To-Do Lists
Separating your home and work to-dos will make it easier for you to get things done.
A good idea would be to make your work to-do list at the end of your working day and leave it at the office.
This way you can be more productive at work, since you don’t have to think about walking the dog or making a cake for your kid’s birthday party.
Similarly, when you’re home, you can devote all your time to your family, without worrying about work projects and deadlines.
If you feel there are too many things distracting you from what you have to do, try finding a way to isolate yourself.
Whether it’s closing the door to your office or having your children play in their room while you’re cleaning the living room, being alone might be exactly what you need.
If your phone keeps notifying you of various Facebook posts or Viber messages, turn all notifications off or simply sign out from all social networks.
If possible, turn your phone off altogether.
Once you get interrupted, it takes some time to get your mind back to what you were doing, not to mention the mistakes this may cause.
Finishing your to-do list feels great, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done every day.
Taking care of your own needs is sometimes much more important than doing chores or being a perfect employee.
And don’t forget to reward yourself from time to time. Life isn’t a big to-do list, so always make time to enjoy it.
Bio: Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success.