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How I Manage To-Do lists

Most of us have more "to-dos" floating around in our heads than we have time or energy for, which can be a source of ongoing feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and fatigue.

I believe life is too short to be worried about all the things to do!

Did we love? Did we do our best? Did we take care of our bodies and brains and loved ones?

Those are at the top of my mental to do list and they trump ALL other to dos.

But there are still a lot of things on my to do list! How do I manage all those things while still feeling free from anxiety?

I do use to-do lists as guides, like bowling alley bumpers to keep me on track toward my goals. With lists that work with my brain, I guarantee each day I'll at least knock a few pins down, which means I'm a few steps closer to my life goals and dreams...

Which means I feel better day to day and moment to moment, and that's my biggest goal of all!

Here's my system in a nutshell:

1 - Schedule Personal and Self Care Time

I look ahead one to two months and schedule self care/fun time, then schedule work and other things around these:

  • massages, physical therapy, doctor appointments

  • play time with my hubby + friends

  • friend visits

My Sundays are for resetting my nervous system and getting my home back to the organization baseline I've worked so hard to achieve.

  • Morning: rest - a good book and cats on my lap

  • Afternoon: prepare for a great week while listening to fun podcasts

    • laundry

    • cook healthy food (play in the kitchen)

    • tidy (pick up + put things away)

    • maybe take a long walk with a good podcast or on a call with a friend

  • Evening: play in the garden, watch a movie with my hubby, or read


The book The Checklist Manifesto says our brains can only handle 3-7 tasks before it gets overwhelmed, so I keep my actual working to-do lists short. 

I make daily to-do lists with 3-7 things on bright sticky notes:

  • Business: I keep the list in front of my computer and write a new one each day

  • Personal: I keep a list on the kitchen island where I can refer to it often


Time blocking 

If I have a day I want to get a LOT done, I time block. For example: 

  • Emails 10-11:00 (with a list of the most important ones)

  • Calls 11-11:45 (with a list of who I need to call + phone numbers)

  • Lunch 12-12:30 (I take a full mental break during lunch)

  • Errands 12:30-4:30 (with a list of the errands I need to run that I put in my car)


I use my TidyWild To Do sheets to get things out of my head and off lists from around the house.

  • Major brain dumps every few weeks - sometimes adding to current lists, sometimes starting a new one and recycling the old one

    • Business-related:

      • on a clipboard on my desk I can always find

      • overarching business to-do list on top

      • separate lists for projects with exact steps needed - these are open-ended and I add to them as I think of things

    • Personal to-dos:

      • I keep in a spot I see often

      • I add as I think of things

      • I make my short lists of 3-5 things on a new bright sticky note for each day and recycle the old one

There are soooo many things to do, and so many ways to organize our time.

And I believe it's worth continually searching for the system that works for our own brains and lives!

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