by Steph Beth Nickel
Have you ever overestimated how much you could get done in a day? Do you perpetually add more things to your To Do List than is reasonable? Do you find yourself discouraged at the end of the day—or thinking, “Oh, well! Maybe tomorrow will be different”?
Below are six ideas that help me—if I remember to implement them. (Note: I work from home and have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Hopefully, even if you have a traditional 9-5, you’ll find some of the suggestions helpful.)
- Start with gratitude. It’s so easy to dread our “evil day job” or resent spending time with our family if we view them as interruptions to what we really want to do. If, instead, we itemize related things we’re thankful for, it will go a long way to changing our mindset. Recently, I purchased a taskpad that says HAPPY on the cover. Each morning I fill a single page with things I’m thankful for. I use coloured markers and include stickers and washi tape because this simple expression of creativity makes me happy.
- Prioritize your list. Currently, I place each task I want to accomplish under one of three categories: YES, MAYBE, and HOPEFULLY.
- Double check your list. Is there anything that gets your mojo flowing on your YES list or do these pursuits get relegated to the MAYBE or HOPEFULLY column? A strong work ethic and sense of responsibility are admirable, but if we don’t “refill the well,” it gets more and more draining to accomplish the non-negotiables.
- Know yourself. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Determine when your creative juices flow most freely and when you have the highest energy levels. As much as possible, schedule your tasks accordingly. If a certain task requires a clear head and undivided focus, try to accomplish it at the most opportune time of day. You may be able to fit in those you can do on autopilot when your energy stores are running low.
- Schedule at least one much-loved task when your energy levels are high. Accomplishing one such task when you have abundant energy goes a long way to building your reserves. You don’t want to leave all the tasks that bring a smile to your face until you feel depleted. If you do, it’s hard to be enthusiastic about even the most eagerly anticipated items on your list.
- Create a schedule rather than a To Do List. This gives you a better idea of how much time a task will take. Don’t forget to add everyday responsibilities to your schedule (i.e.: appointments, household chores, coffee with friends, etc.). In this way, you can glance at your planner and see where there are available timeslots. As we hear from many sources, it’s important to leave margins in our schedule. After all, we still tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in any given 16-hour day. (Don’t laugh! Some people actually get eight hours of sleep a night.)
- Don’t forget to add REST to your schedule. Many of us feel we must accomplish something every waking moment or our time is wasted. There are countless benefits of going for a walk, curling up with a good book, or simply sitting outside in the sunshine—too many to go into here.
I’d love to hear how you curb your tendency to overestimate what you can accomplish and how you prioritize how you spend your time.
Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
join her Facebook group:
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.