Managing a Long To-Do List

By Katie Poppe
on August 01, 2016

You know those days when it seems like the to-do list will never end? Those are the days when the things don’t all fit in the planner and you definitely won’t need any help filling in the blank space.

Sometimes it is hard to focus when you’re faced with a daunting list of things to do. I know I have trouble staying on task when I know there’s just a slew of other things to do when I finish.

Here are some tips to help cope with that long to-do list. When I'm feeling stuck or like I'm just spinning my wheels, I try to make sure I've covered some of the things here to help me focus. 


Get dressed

I know the sweatpants are comfy. Trust me, mine are my uniform when I'm not leaving the house (and even sometimes when I do leave #sorrynotsorry). But there's something about changing into fresh clothes (and a pair of real shoes!) that signifies to my brain that it's time to get things done.

Take care of yourself

When we're busy, it's easy to put ourselves last. The problem is that we're always busy! You cannot keep putting yourself last, or else you won't be able to operate productively. Take a walk, do some yoga, or read something for pleasure. Heck, even just take a shower!

Drink water

Water is so important, y'all. I know you hear it often, but that's because it's true! Staying hydrated will keep your head clear so you can focus on your list.

Slow down

Sure, going full speed ahead will help you get that list tackled ASAP. But you're not a machine! All work, all the time will only lead to burnout. Give yourself some grace and take some breaks.

Stop multitasking

I am a recovering multitasker. I have been training by brain to work on as many things as possible since middle school, so I will be the first to tell you that it's a hard habit to break. But I've noticed I can get more done (and done RIGHT!) When I concentrate on one thing at a time.

Change scenery if possible

This is totally dependent on your specific tasks. Sometimes a move to another location can help you focus on the things you need to do. For instance, at this very moment I am sitting at Panera Bread to type this up. I had 30 minutes between errands so I popped in, ordered a cup of tea, and got to work.

List top 3 priorities

The best way to feel productive with your long to-do list is to know your priorities. If you spend most of your time plugging away at tasks that aren’t as important then you may run out of time to tackle the big things. Get the important stuff done first and feel accomplished no matter how many other menial tasks you cross off for the rest of the day.

Remove distractions

Turn off the TV, and logout of social media. You’d be surprised how much time you spend scrolling Instagram when you have a minute free. Spoiler alert - it’s probably way more than a minute! If you have small children, this one could be difficult. You may have to work in 5-10 minute spurts while they are otherwise entertained with something else.

Set a timer

Decide how long you can dedicate to a task then set a timer and get to it. Work nonstop the entire time until the timer goes off, then take a short break. This method is often referred to as the Pomodoro Technique.

Connect with accountability partners

Finally, one way to stay focused is to connect with others that are also trying to work through their to-do list. Text your friend or sister and ask her to check in on you in a few hours. I’m sure she’ll be happy to oblige if you return the favor!

A long to-do list can seem extra daunting without a plan, but using some of these strategies can help you whip it into shape.

This post was written by Kristan Kremer for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. For more information about Kristan visit her on Instagram @kristankremer. Don't forget to share this blog entry with your friends!

The Monster Will Not Win: Productivity on a Bad Day

By Katie Poppe
on May 13, 2016

The “Depression Monster” or bad days seem to pick the worst times to strike, and often result in a less than productive day. As someone who suffers from depression, I find that I feel even worse at the end of these days because I wasn’t productive. On these days, it can be extremely difficult to get things done but I found that by going through the process outlined, I don’t feel as bad that night. This process can be applied by anyone on a difficult day.

Quick note: If you are suffering from depression or other mental health issues, please seek help from trained medical professionals. 

On most days, I start with a filled-in sheet from the Limelife Planners Hourly Paper Pad that I made the night before. These sheets come in handy when you have a busy day ahead and I like to plan the night before for the upcoming day. Unfortunately on this particular morning, I woke up feeling pretty down. I knew that it would be impossible to complete all the tasks. Instead of ripping up the paper, I went in with my handy Sharpie pen and picked three things from the list. The number of tasks varies depending on the severity of the episode; sometimes I’ll pick one task and on other days, I’ll be able to pick five. 

When picking tasks, I usually choose ones that won’t require too much effort. If you’re having a bad day, choose to do things that won’t require you to drive all over town. Pick tasks that are monotonous like deleting emails, taking out the trash or doing the dishes. Once you’ve decided on the tasks, write them on a separate sheet. This helps to focus on those tasks and prevents guilt from building about the other tasks on the longer to-do list. Throughout the day, I’ll try to accomplish those three tasks.

At the end of the night, I’ll hopefully be able to check off my shorter list. What about the longer list? I’ll get a brand new sheet and plan for the next day optimistically. On these particular nights, I find spending some time journaling helpful. For more details, check out my previous post Write Stress Away, where I outline some different journaling styles and techniques. 

When you are having a bad day, remember to give yourself a break. Allow yourself time to wallow but try not to get consumed by the negative thoughts. Take some time to do something fun, whether that is watching Netflix, journaling, reading or treating yourself to a delectable snack. When you are in the midst of a bad period, it may be hard to implement these strategies, but learning about these techniques on a good day can make it easier to apply against the monster.

This post was written by Sadia Chowdhury for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. For more information about Sadia visit her on Instagram @sadias_ruminations. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.

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