Organized Charm: How To Defeat Your Insane To-Do List

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How To Defeat Your Insane To-Do List


When I get overwhelmed (hello, beginning of the semester), I tend to get pretty obsessed with working on one thing, and one thing only. Meanwhile, ANY other task that comes up just seems like way too much to handle. Right now, it's my Master's Project. The syllabus is terrifying. I literally had 10 things due in the first week of class. 10 THINGS! Ain't nobody it time for that!

Now, aside from this semester, there are actually things going on in my real life, too... My brother is moving to Arizona on Saturday (queue all the tears in the world), I literally have 9 billion things due on Sunday, I have to visit the doctor before Monday… oh, did I mention that we’ll be out of town this weekend? And to top it all off, I've graciously been nominated to participate the Ice Bucket Challenge within the next 24 hours (priorities)!

So... Now I'm wondering "how am I going to do get it all done?" What takes priority? Can I say "no" to anything? (Believe me, if I had 100 extra dollars, I would totally decline that ice bucket nomination!) But at this point, it looks like I've got to follow through with everything. SO... I did what I always do when I get freaked out by having too much to do, I spent hours procrastinating on Pinterest... I mean… “researching and planning”. (those sound way more productive, right?!) 

But eventually, I have to step back and take an assessment of what I’m doing. Am I OVER-planning? And if so, why? Because I think I can plan my way into having everything done? Nope. Not gonna happen. Sometimes I catch myself using planning as a way to mask my procrastination. Then, I just have to stop where I am. Use the plan I already have. And get started!

Do you also need to stop over-planning and just take action? 

Here are 9 tricks that help me!



1. Set a Timer and STOP When It Does
Timers are amazing. I use them for everything. Seriously. I have a "wake up" alarm, a "get ready" alarm, a "leave" alarm. When I sit down to read/write, I set an alarm. When it stops, I wrap up what I'm doing and I stop! And that's the most important part... Give yourself permission to say "okay. This is GOOD ENOUGH for now" and move on. Obsession is not productive! 




2. Write Down Your Fave Inspiration
You know all those inspirational quotes you're always pinning on Pinterest (oh... is that just me)? This is the exact moment you need them! Find ONE and make it your motto for the day! And yes, heading to Pinterest with a looming to-do list is a dangerous thing. If you're feeling low on self-control, just write down whatever inspiration comes into your head!




3. Hide Your Social Media Apps
Those notifications. Am I right? The constant reminder that there is SOMEthing you haven't read, SOMEone who wants a response, the threat of having just ONE more thing added to your "list of demands" is just too much to deal with sometimes. Go ahead and slide that "Social" folder over to the next screen on your phone! You'll be more sociable when you aren't on the verge of a panic attack. 




4. Get Down to the Basics
I love lists. Planners. Post it's. Washi tape. Color coded pens. Calendar apps. Highlighters. And every single other thing that can possibly be used to be more "productive". But sometimes, you just need to toss those things aside, grab a boring ole black pen, piece of plain notebook paper, and make the dang list already! 




5. Make A List (not 35)
And while you're making that list, keep it basic and straight to the point! Write down exactly what you need to do to get from where you are right now to where you need to be tomorrow. Do not write some of it on a chalkboard, some on a post it calendar, some in a planner, some on a notebook, and some in your Reminders all. One list. One place.




6. Start a Countdown
This morning (while writing the due dates from my syllabus down for the 15th time), I realized that my class this semester only has 15 weeks! 15 weeks? And the first one is already halfway over? That means I only have 14 1/2 weeks to go! And you know what? I CAN do this for 14 1/2 more weeks... Even if I feels like I might die. 





7. Reward Yourself
Every day/night, have something to look forward to! It could be a rerun of Gossip Girl or PLL. A glass of wine. A mindless Pinterest/Tumblr binge. A cupcake. Whatever small thing you look forward to in your daily life! No only will this help you stay motivated but it will also serve as positive reinforcement for your hard work. Plus, you know, it will make you happy




8. Drink Water
You can't be productive, witty, healthy, energetic, brilliant, coherent, etc. while you're dehydrated. You just can't. Whenever I start feeling rundown, it never fails that I've forgotten to drink water! Take a mini-break, grab a little drink (maybe walk outside to drink it), and give yourself a minute to breathe and rehydrate. 




9. Refresh
Kind of along the same lines as "rehydrating", it's also important to "refresh" (and not just your webpage). Would a shower, washing your face, or brushing your teeth right now make you feel like a new person? Then by all means, drop whatever you're doing and go do that thing! Your body (and mind) will be happier if you feel put together and refreshed! 

So, I guess that Ice Bucket Challenge will come in handy, after all! :)



What are you struggling with on your to-do list right now? Did you have any classes that were more intense than you expected? What tips/tricks do you have for boosting your productivity? 
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