Making a to-do list is such a satisfying thing, isn’t it? THIS is what I’m going to do today. I’m SO organized, because I’ve made this list. I feel great!!
Fast forward to the end of the day: Well, I crossed off two things and the rest are all re-written on tomorrow’s list. I feel depressed. Life stinks.
I think most homeschooling moms can relate. We are much more prone to being pulled away from our list by those little people of ours that we spend all day with than our public school mom counterparts are.
Today’s tip will help. It has to do with recognizing our limitations and accepting our season of life. Homeschooling is a season — a long season, lol, but still just a season. And while we are in it, we need to accept the fact that our productivity needs to measured in different ways than we might have done before.
So here’s the deal: limit your to-do list to THREE things each day.
Yup, only three. Pick the three things that are most important that you get done that day, and leave the rest OFF the list. (I mentioned this briefly on Day 7; today we're going to go into more detail.)
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the things that get done EVERY day, like those that are part of your morning routine (which is another list that should be very short), or that are standard daily tasks like cooking meals or helping junior with math. I'm talking about those things that you try to get done IN ADDITION TO the usual daily routine. Things like your meal planning session, or paying the bills, or making an important phone call, or even doing the laundry, if you do it as a once-a-week type thing.
I know that three things seems like not enough to put on the list. I know you’re going through that extensive compendium of tasks that has built up in your head and believing you’ll never get them all done if you only do three a day. I know you want to ask for four or even five — but don’t.
You see, we never give ourselves enough margin. As a result, we rush from one task to the next, giving each task the absolute minimum and treating our kids as interruptions. We are stressed and short-tempered, and we feel like failures because that long undone list stares at us at the end of every day.
Choosing only three tasks means there is a higher probability that we’ll finish all three and have room in our day for all the other unplanned fires that need to be put out. Or maybe we’ll finish two, and one will remain undone — but somehow that’s not as depressing, when there is only one thing left on your list, rather than a gazillion.
If you’re like me, you are almost always biting off more than you can chew. Our to-do list eyes are bigger than our stomach to actually get things done. We think we can be Wonder Woman. Um, guess what? We usually can't. :-)
We should be focusing on being the woman INSIDE that we want to be. The rushed, harried, always stressed woman who gets lots done is NOT the goal. Or the depressed one who feels ineffective because her undone list is still almost as long at the end of the day. The calm, at peace, encouraging mom is who we want to be. That means we have to limit our list and be realistic about what we can accomplish.
And the neat thing is that we will find ourselves actually being MORE productive, because we see our list as achievable.
When we are staring at a mile-long to-do list, we KNOW we won’t get it all done, and we lose the will to even start. We take frequent breaks, or even whole days off. We are overwhelmed by the very thought of it all, so we procrastinate. (More on how to handle this overwhelmed feeling on Day 29.)
When there are only three things on the list, we feel hopeful we can do it — and we buckle down and see progress. Which encourages us to keep going the next day. And after a week we’ve crossed a BUNCH of things off our list, and we feel like a million bucks. And our family still likes us. :-)
Less is more, y’all. Try it and see.