Does it ever feel like your day has just flown by, but you have not completed anything on your to-do list? Or your priority task list still has every item pending? Does it feel like there are just too many things to do every day? As moms, time management is difficult because we have so many demands in our lives. It’s easy to get distracted in the moment. The good news is with a few simple changes, you will see a better outcome and more success every day in completing your priority to-do list.
5 Steps to Complete your Priority Task List Every Day
Plan the next day before you go to bed each night
The first step to not wasting time is planning your day the night before. Start a list of priority tasks for the next morning (the Smart Mom Priority Planner is a great resource to plan your day). Pick the 3-5 most important things that must be done today (not tomorrow’s priorities, or next week’s priority unless it is a long-term project that requires work over several days, then don’t wait till the last minute to start).
If you work, before you leave work every day, take a few minutes to make a task list for the next day. Try to prioritize the list so you can stay focused on completing the most important tasks.
I keep 2 lists of tasks every day a list of personal/non-work tasks and a separate list of work tasks. You may prefer one master list, use the plan that works best for you.
The work tasks are only done at work during my workday. The personal tasks are done before work, after work, during lunch when I am not at work. Everyone’s job is different, so you will need to determine your daily work tasks, but personal tasks might be to get the children haircuts, return books to the library, grocery shopping, complete your personal taxes, you know all tasks that must be done. On my personal list, I also include household chores and daily homework for the children.
Once you make writing your daily tasks on a list a habit, you will find if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done. It’s very important to write all your tasks on your daily to-do list and incomplete tasks need to be carried over to the next day.
Each morning before you start your day organize your daily list
If you are going to complete your priority tasks every day, you must decide what are your priorities. Take the list you wrote down last night and highlight the 3 most important tasks you must complete today. These tasks could be personal or work related.
Then, from those 3 tasks you selected, place a number by each task 1, 2, or 3 in the order of importance for completing the task.
Helpful hint, complete high difficulty or tasks which require large amounts of time in the morning when you have the most energy and you are thinking clearly.
Any additional tasks on the list can be given a lower priority number (4,5,6, etc…). If occasionally during the day, you have short “in-between times” like 15 minutes before a meeting or conference call, you might be able to complete one of these lower priority tasks. Work to use every minute in your day, especially the “in-between” minutes which are great for small or easy tasks.
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During the day, follow your list and adjust if needed.
Once you start your day, start working on your priorities. It’s tempting to do the easy things first, but don’t. Marking a few easy items off the list will make you feel like you have completed something, but at the end of the day if your priorities are not done, you will have greater stress. Work on the priorities you set in step 2, save the easy items for the “in-between” times or the end of the day when you are tired.
Sometimes, new or unexpected priorities will be added to the list. You may need to remove something from the original list or make it a task for another day. An unexpected problem may happen at work and you must deal with right then. If that happens, that new situation becomes the priority. Or maybe your child is sick and you need to take them to the doctor.
Changes in priorities happen to all of us. Refocus and adjust your priority list, your day is not lost.
As you go through your day and you decide how to spend your time, stay focused on the tasks you placed on your priority task list for today.
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Use lists for everything
Lists, lists, and lists. Lists will help you manage your day and stay on task. They will also help you remember the important things for the day.
Have checklists even for routine tasks that follow the same steps every time. Checklists will help reduce mistakes and errors and make it less likely you will forget an important step.
Always have a list for shopping. Without a list, you might forget an important item and then have to go back (wasting time). Additionally, if you shop without a list, it is more likely you will impulse buy and overspend.
Distractions are personal. Some of us are distracted by social media like Pinterest and Facebook. Some of us can be distracted talking on the phone.
Learn to recognize your personal distractions and avoid them. We all need breaks during the day, but don’t let your distraction take over your day. It’s so easy to become distracted and spend 30 minutes on Pinterest or Facebook without even realizing the time is gone.
Allow yourself breaks and set limits. Give yourself a 10-minute break. Take a walk if it’s a nice day.
After you have done such a great job planning and prioritizing your day, don’t allow distractions to take over and get your off task.
You can successfully prioritize your day by planning the night before, organizing your priority list every day, making adjustments throughout the day if unexpected situations happen, use lists so you don’t forget anything important and don’t let yourself get distracted.
To help you plan your daily priorities, you can use the Smart Mom Priority Planner. This planner has a page for setting daily priorities, weekly priorities and a month at a glance. You can also plan your upcoming projects.
Get your Priority Planner and start organizing your day for success.
How do you prioritize your day? What is your best strategy for completing priority tasks?