Do you find that you put off doing routine cleaning tasks because it always seems such a big job and you don’t know where to start? Do you spend ages searching for ingredients in your less than perfectly organised storecupboard or pantry? Do you have major obstacles in your life that have stood in your way for ages because you never have the time to reflect on them and figure out how to overcome them? If any of these common scenarios ring true for you, then today’s blog post is for you.
I hear from many people, especially women, that they really love a good to-do list and they especially enjoy crossing off items once they are complete. To-do lists often get a bad rap from time management experts because they sometimes contain a number of random tasks which never actually end up getting done. However, what is different about the to-do lists / trackers I am recommending is that they are very specific. If you draft and save these lists / trackers on the computer, you can then print them out time and again as required.
- Cleaning / household management routine – Why not make a list of all of the cleaning / household management tasks you do (or feel you should be doing) on a daily, weekly, monthly and even an annual basis and set aside an appropriate block of time to get the tasks done. Listing all of the tasks not only means you can break them down into small steps which are less overwhelming. It also means you can even easily delegate them to other members of the household or even your weekly cleaner (dependent on how well you get on and if you won’t run the risk of coming across as a control freak!)
- Priority planner – A well-known productivity strategy is to complete your most important or most difficult (dreaded!) tasks at the start of your working day when you are feeling well rested and more disciplined. List your absolutely non-negotiable tasks at the top of the page, separated into work-related, family-related and household-related tasks. Then further down the list write down your less important tasks for the day, but still allocate a time slot to them. Don’t forget to allocate at least some small pockets of time to mini acts of self-care. You need to look after your own needs in order to maximise your productivity levels.
- Label everything in your storecupboard / pantry – Do you have well-stocked food cupboards but you never seem to be able to find anything in them? Put all of your storecupboard foods in transparent labelled jars or containers if possible. Organise them logically by food type, with all labels easily visible. It will take time to transfer the foodstuffs from the packet to the jar to keep them filled up, but it will definitely save a lot of searching time and frustration in the long run. You can get some fabulous ideas for storecupboard organization on Pinterest.
- Dinner ideas – Do you spend too long scratching your head about what you could cook for dinner? Why not write a list of your ‘repertoire’ of recipes you could cook for dinner? You are probably carrying them all around in your head at the moment and taking up valuable mental space. Also, if they are simply in your head, you may not always be able to recall them when required. Do a brainstorm on paper of all potential dinner ideas. Why not scan a copy of the recipe to be included in your “dinner ideas” file so that everything is in one place or at least note down the recipe book and page number where the recipe can be found. Having all of this information in one place will also allow you to delegate cooking duties to other members of the household.
- Decluttering list – List all of the areas of your house where clutter accumulates and any types of items in those areas which need to be decluttered. Decide how often those areas need to be decluttered and set aside appropriate blocks of time to do so. Decluttering can be a task that many people dread but why not get a friend or family member to help out to make it less monotonous. Decluttering need not be difficult. Just have a bag assigned to rubbish, a bag for stuff that is still useable and could be given away or sold and a pile for possessions you wish to keep. I urge you to be pretty ruthless in your decluttering. Make a firm decision on how long you will keep items which are not in regular use before getting rid of them and stick to it. The results you can reap from decluttering are massively rewarding. Less time spent tidying up your possessions and searching for lost possessions. Having less clutter around your home can also lift your mood and increase your energy levels.
- Family time planning – In today’s busy world, good quality family time can be hard to come by. To ensure you make the most of this time, it makes sense to plan out your family time in advance, even before you put all of your commitments into your calendar. Consult your children about how they would like to spend family time and any outings they might like to have and schedule them into your calendar if they are viable options. It is also useful to write out a list of possible outings you can go on with children, categorised by whole day outings, half-day outings and outings that only take an hour or two. This will give you inspiration when you don’t have anything planned for a day off so you don’t need to wrack your brains.
- Audio books / podcasts to listen to – As busy parents, you probably can’t remember the last time you managed to read a book consistently to the end without losing the thread. But this does not need to be a barrier to learning and absorbing new information in this day and age. Many print books are now also available in audio format so you can listen to them to take the edge off a monotonous task. Also, if you have not yet discovered the magic of podcasts, what are you waiting for? They are a fantastic source of information. You can learn new things about pretty much every subject under the sun, including productivity, time management and personal development and, what is even better, they are completely free to listen to. If you are anything like me, you will constantly be getting new recommendations of books and podcasts to read. / listen to and it is useful to make a list to keep track of them. To ensure that you actually get around to reading / listening to these, why not write down a time / month in the near future when you plan to do so.
- Strategise on overcoming obstacles – So to be fair, this is probably more of a journalling exercise, rather than a to-do list / tracker exercise. However, it is still a vital exercise. How many aspects of your life have you been tolerating for longer than you should? Sit down and take time to reflect on what is going well in your life and what is going not so well and needs to change. Then work out how you are going to overcome the obstacles which are standing in the way of these changes. Break down the actions you need to take to achieve your goals into small steps to make them less overwhelming. Do the mindset work if necessary if you are doubting whether something you wish to achieve is possible for you. The best advice I ever heard was that you need to set goals for the person you wish to become rather than the person you currently are.
- Income and outgoings tracker – I realise financial management is a real chore for most people. If money is tight, you probably feel less inclined to track your money. But financial tracking makes good sense and can really reap dividends (sorry for the pun) no matter how much money you have. With so many recurring payments now made by direct debit or annual subscriptions automatically renewed (often without the debiting company sending a reminder), it is more important than ever for us to track bank statements, to note monthly income and outgoings and also working out where you can economise.
- Supermarket list – To save time in having to write out a shopping list for the supermarket every week, why not store a list of all food and household products you ever buy from the supermarket on your computer with a tick box next to each product. Print the list out for the following week following every trip to the supermarket and put a tick next to a product during the week when you notice that stocks are running low. This will save time at the end of the week when you come to check your cupboards before visiting the supermarket. It pays to be as specific as possible in your product descriptions on the list. Consider specifying the particular brand and size of the product you normally buy so that you could delegate the supermarket trip to another household member if applicable. To save even more time, why not switch to online grocery shopping if you haven’t already? Many supermarkets remember your previous orders and give you the option of adding all products from a previous order to your trolley. That saves a fantastic amount of time!
Over to you
Do you use any other specific types of to-do lists and/or trackers which you can recommend? Please feel free to share them in the “Comments” section below.
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