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How To Manage Your To Do List

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I’m drowning in “to dos” …

Know the feeling?

An ever growing list of mummy-musts?

Torn all ways at once, barely treading water?

Anything I get done feels half baked or … if I am honest … just plain badly done.

And I have that sinking feeling that this is it … motherhood … struggling from day to day in survival mode.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t stand it.

And I’ve been thinking real hard about how I can change things up, escape the grind of getting by and enjoy more time with my family, as me and on my career.


So what’s the secret?

Delegate more? Who to?

Get up earlier? Nope! This mama is sleep deprived!

Go to bed later? Ditto!

Work smarter with clever “mummy hacks”.

Yes certainly but will they really save me enough time to make a major difference?

No the secret is a simple trick I have … as a mummy … just forgotten to use.

And do you know what it is? Just do less!!!


Oh come off it, I hear you say, how stupid is that?

But I mean it.

At my best I used it at work and it busts the tyranny of the ever growing to do list.

To get started quick, just create two separate to do lists.

Have a separate sheet of paper or electronic list for each list.

(I am a massive fan of Cozi a FREE app designed for mums that lets you easily create and manage lists and sync them within your diary).

Then split these again … if you work on paper a line down the page is perfect.

So now you have 2 lists each split in half and you’ll divide to dos between them.


The first list is for GAME CHANGERS.

Only put things on this list that will save time, save money, save stress, quash clutter or just change things up some way AND help you reach your big goals for your family and you.

If it’s just about life as you know it, it don’t belong on this list!

A few GAME CHANGERS on my current list are …

  • Set up website for a new business I am kicking off 
  • Clear garden shed so we can get summer stuff out without family breakdown!
  • Get all woolens washed & away for summer before moth eats them
  • Create a new easy meal plan for when my daughter starts big school 

They’re not all sexy see and not all fun! But they do all change something …


Divide the list as you go between URGENT and NON-URGENT … and then whack down the deadline against anything which has a drop dead date.

Do the URGENT half first as soon as you can but focus your energy on the NON-URGENT ones so you can break the panic cycle of doing everything last minute.

Now I am officially rubbish at this! I was always the kid who did homework last minute.

It is so self destructive. And a recipe for anxiety and feeling like a failure the whole time.

But how on earth do you find time to actually get onto the none urgent stuff?

Or in fact get any of these game changers done?

Well that’s where the next list comes in ….


The second half of your list is for ROUTINE stuff … think about your typical week and try and include everything on this list that currently takes up your time.

Again split it between URGENT and NON-URGENT … only put things on the URGENT list if there are immediate bad consequences of you not doing them.

Now lots of this routine stuff is important, it’s what keeps the family ticking over.

But it’s too, too easy to spend all your time on it.

Endlessly. And never find the time to do the stuff that can change things.

So once you’ve done the list stop and ask yourself about each item ….

  • What would truthfully happen if I just didn’t do this?
  • Not today? Not this week? Not this month? Not this year? Or just never again!!
  • Would it really matter?
  • Can I live with the consequences?


Now go back to your GAME CHANGER list … what will change up your life the most?

Very roughly, how long do you need to get it done?

Right now go back to the ROUTINE list and cross off stuff you currently do or were planning to do that will give you time to complete that GAME CHANGER …

I warn you, it’s hard at first. I get all defensive and think “But I just have to do it!”

Keep pushing yourself .. would the consequences of not doing it really be that bad?

And don’t give up till you’ve crossed off enough stuff to let you do that game changer that will get you off the treadmill of motherhood and really moving in the direction you want to go!

And you know what, some stuff you cross off, you’ll NEVER … hallelujah!! .. do EVER again!

And other stuff you’ll skip for a week or two & the world won’t come to an end!


And do you know the funny thing?

Some of the stuff I crossed off my list, I was never in a month of Sundays going to get done.

But writing it dowm and crossing it off … deciding not to do it … made me feel so much better.

It helped me feel in control rather than the random panic of a zillion things I’d failed to do.

And it just cleared my head of mental clutter.


But the best thing about this approach, is that you see results immediately.

Right away you find yourself getting big, game changer stuff done.

And if you keep at it, week after week, crossing stuff off your list … doing less … you suddenly get a whole heap more stuff done … and even God forbid, done well!

Bobbi @ 3GLOL

Wednesday 9th of July 2014

I love doing less...count me in!! :)

Thanks for sharing!

Alice Emma Thompson

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Less always good isn't it Bobbi :-)

Julie V

Saturday 21st of June 2014

I love the idea that deciding not to do stuff is better than just not doing it! I sometimes guilt myself, and this will help :)I found when I was a nanny to 2 small kids that to dos sometimes got in the way: namely of me eating. I made a new rule for myself: If the kids were hungry and so was I, once the food was ready for everyone, almost nothing would keep me from eating. I would only get up to help a kid who needed help with food, or for an emergency (like a kid fell out of their chair and was crying).This really helped because it was so much easier to eat when the kids were busy eating. I could clean while the kids played, but it was always hard to eat when the kids were in the other room.Sorry if you think that's off topic. I really thought it had to do with keeping my to dos sane.

Alice Emma Thompson

Thursday 10th of July 2014

It's so easy as a mum for eating to go right to the bottom of the to dos! I could have so used your tip when I was a new mum Julie, such an important one.

Julia Nyanyo

Tuesday 17th of June 2014

I will give it a try. I tend to write one long list (even adding things I've already done just so I can cross them off and mentally feel like I'm getting somewhere!) I like the idea of deciding not to do something rather than just never getting to it - empowering! I just fear I might never do anything that's not an urgent game changer ever again - still maybe that would be ok!

Alice Emma Thompson

Thursday 10th of July 2014

I definitely find it really empowering Julia to decide what I am not going to do ... the great thing about the game changers is that they really create more time.

Mary Beth

Tuesday 17th of June 2014

This is great information. I have always had a problem with 'managing' but I am going to try to implement some of these tips. Thanks so much for sharing at this week's Project Inspire{d}. Pinning and tweeting!

An Almost Unschooling Mom

Saturday 14th of June 2014

Sounds like good advice.