There are days when you wake at 4am. You don’t know what woke you up, but you are cursing it.
Now you’re brain has started ticking over.
You finally give up on trying to get back to sleep, and get up at 5:30. You are already feeling overwhelmed at everything that is on your plate for the day. So you just launch into it…to relieve some of the pressure your feeling.
“bzzzzzzz” … wrong move.
Can you believe it? By 5:32am you’ve already gone wrong!
It’s actually pretty common. So let me tell you why MOST women, when they are MOST under the pump, manage to make their ‘to-do’ list longer rather than shorter.
As women, we are pulled in many directions, and not always towards something fruitful!
Our brains play a daily game of Twister. We turn ourselves inside out trying to maneuver all the family demands, life administration, and work demands into one epic gymnastics move. But no one is there applauding us for it at the end of the day!
It’s just another day in the life of you (and me!)
So your to-do list is large. Two things we can do about that…
1/ you get better at saying no (and we will get to that another time).
2/ we manage what’s on there more effectively and realistically.
That’s easier said than done when we are using old school time management techniques to manage our list. Typically this is yet another area we see ourselves as women, working through a masculine set-up to achieve an outcome. The truth is, simply prioritizing a list of tasks and working through them, like a man would, is just not suitable for a woman. If we are tackling this list in a manner that is going to sustain, even increase, our energy, we need a different approach.
I wanted to give you a little insight into some of my tools for ways to cope with what’s on your plate from the perspective of energy management, not task management.
I guess at this point, it is helpful to say, it is probably worth taking at least a week long view on your to do list. Much like a budget, it does help if you have a little reserve time up your sleeve to get ahead of yourself. That way you can make the most of the energy ups and downs that inevitably occur in a week.
Having said that if you are standing there right now staring down the barrel of an extensive “to-do” list today, then all of what I am about to teach you still applies for today. So, grab a cuppa, and your to-do list and lets get started!
Here are my top 4 reasons you are going wrong with your To-Do list management:
- You brain dump and you prioritize your list by numbering only.
- When you get interrupted you spend 10 mins going back over the list re-prioritising again, and working out where you were up to and wasting energy.
- You give too much attention to the squeakiest wheel on the list (which isn’t always the most important!)
- You don’t have a clear delineation method to where an email response turns into a new task in its own right.
Don’t prioritise by number only, get some Alpha action in there!
So you’ve brain-dumped the list. Instead of starting with numbers, start with letters. Mine go like this:
A= Absolutely has to be done today
B = Bloody nice if it did get done
C= Let’s See if does or it doesn’t.
Then let’s get our numbers on!
Number the A’s from 1-100 (or how ever many there are)
And do the same with your Bs and your Cs.
So when the baby cries, the staff member has a meltdown, or someone else’s priorities get in the way of yours for a minute, you can easily go back to where the list was left. I guess it’s like remembering where you parked the car in the multi-level parking lot. You never forget it, A5, or C1, or B4. And at the end of the day, you can applaud yourself (we already know no one else will!) Because unless you’re being completely unrealistic with yourself, chances are, you got through at least the A list. And that was what HAD to be done right!?
Quieting the squeaky wheels
A task list prioritised the way I am talking about here, allows you to get serious clarity, within 10 minutes at the start of a day.
So when you find yourself spending more than 5 minutes on an email response. Or when you find yourself on the phone answering your husband’s long-winded business questions. Or when you realize that going through the life insurance application form is going to take 5 hours not 5 minutes.
You look at you’re highly categorised priority list, and say to yourself…”where does this fit on here”. If it’s in the A group, keep doing it. But if it’s on the C list and you haven’t even started the A list…It’s worth telling that “squeaky wheel” you need to put them on the priority list. If you don’t, I can already tell that you will be awake again at 5:30am tomorrow in a silent panic.
I don’t want to see you back here early tomorrow morning! Get prioritising ladies!
Next week I am going to take a week long view and talk about energy allocation, rather than prioritisation. If you love what i am saying here, you can learn more about it by getting our 7 Rituals to Calm the Daily Chaos, head to the home page and sign up.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. We love to hear ideas from our community.