MindfulnessProductivity

How To Spring Clean Your To-Do List

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Here are this 3 ways to declutter your to-do list, reduce stress, and be more productive!

Is your to-do list eight pages long? Are you stressing yourself out thinking about the tasks you need to get done this week? I’m right there with you.

At this point in the year, we’re all busy and stressed out. We’re also tired of hearing ourselves say that we’re busy and stressed out. Seriously, it’s not all that cool to be busy anymore.

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Here are 3 ways to declutter your to-do list, reduce stress, and be more productive!

I know we all want to be productive and achieve our goals, but when we have so many things to do that it’s not humanly possible, we end up burning ourselves out.

Luckily there doesn’t always have to be this battle against our to-do lists. There are ways to make them less daunting and overwhelming, I promise you. Feel like you need to declutter your to-do list? Here are my go-to strategies for streamlining and reducing your workload:

Step 1: Get it out of your head

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Here are 3 ways to declutter your to-do list, reduce stress, and be more productive!If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to guess that a lot of it is actually in your head *gasp*. For me, overwhelm creeps in when I’m thinking through everything I have to do from now until I’m 90 years old. That’s why I suggest writing everything down the moment you start to feel overwhelmed.

Why bother?

Getting everything out of your brilliant brain gives you clarity to see what’s important. Even if your to-do list is eight pages long, you’ll see that your list isn’t actually as urgent as it once seemed.

How to do it

Grab a piece of paper, set a timer for five minutes, and write down everything that comes to mind. Everything. Dump it all onto the first piece of paper you can find. Your list could go from tiny, individual tasks that need to get done tomorrow until it reaches the realm of ‘projects that might be good ideas but would take 10 years to complete.’ Give yourself five minutes to get everything out of your head.

Step 2: Let go of shoulds

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Here are 3 ways to declutter your to-do list, reduce stress, and be more productive!One of the biggest reasons we get overwhelmed is because we think we ‘should’ be doing everything. It’s all too easy to get sucked into thinking you should do exactly what other people are doing (especially if they were successful at it). I find myself saying things like ‘I should start doing yoga daily’ or ‘I should plan out every single meal for the next month.’

What’s the big deal?

These shoulds make your to-do list (or potential to-do list) longer and more overwhelming,  they get in the way of the things that are truly meaningful and worthy of your time and energy.

How to do it

Go through the list you made above and ask if there’s anything you think you should be doing, as opposed to what want or need to be doing. Question whether the tasks or projects you have listed will make your life easier in the future. This is tricky for tasks or projects you don’t exactly enjoy doing, but you can still ask yourself whether they will make your life easier in the future. Once you’ve decided which tasks don’t seem important or meaningful right now, cross them off.

Related Post: Planning vs. Flowing: How To Find The Right Balance

Step 3: Prioritize mindfully

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Here are 3 ways to declutter your to-do list, reduce stress, and be more productive!Now that you’ve gone through your to-do list and removed any shoulds, it’s time to start prioritizing your tasks. My rule of thumb? If it doesn’t need addressing within three weeks, I put it on a ‘future tasks’ list and forget about it until it’s needed (setting reminders helps with this).

Why should I?

Prioritizing your tasks lets you see what’s most pressing and what you don’t actually need to worry about until later.

How to do it

Start re-writing your list so the most important things are at the top. By most important, I mean it’s due within the week or it’s a project that needs breaking into chunks. Then, write due dates next to everything. Even if it doesn’t have a due date, give it one.

At this point, you can start scheduling everything into your planner for the week. Scheduling your tasks into your planner is the best advice I can give to reduce to-do list overwhelm because it gives you a realistic sense of the time you have to accomplish tasks. Make sure you’re not cramming everything into one day by spacing tasks throughout the week. I’ve written a post about how I schedule my week here.

Related Post: 3 Ways To Manage Your To-Do List


Quick Recap

When it comes to your never-ending to-do list, stick with the three principles:

  • Get it out of your head
  • Let go of shoulds
  • Prioritize mindfully

What can you remove from your to-do list? Leave a comment below with you’re letting go of!

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Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! The Blissful Mind is your guide to being the calmest, healthiest, most productive version of yourself. Whether you're trying to slow down, de-stress, or feel more content, I’m here to help make life a little less complicated.
  • NatalieLeanne

    These are such good tips! I ALWAYS do the most important, and usually biggest task first so I know its out of the way! xx

    http://www.natalieleanne.com

  • Very good points though when you are as clumsy as me you end up losing the piece of paper :3 I would make it on my phone haha

    • hahahaha this made me giggle! I just love physically writing everything done, but making it on your phone works too!

  • This is an awesome list! Especially the part about just letting some things go. Sometimes, I clog down my to do list so much with things I think I need to do….when in reality, I just need to let it go.

    • I think we all get stuck thinking we should be doing everything! I always try to remember that quote ‘You can do anything but not everything’ <3

  • Matt Lemon

    This is excellent! I’ve recently started making a physical list like this because I love the feeling of actually crossing something off when completed, but I’ll definitely try these tips to refine it 😁

    • Yesss that feeling is so good! I like apps that allow you to ‘cross’ things off too

      • Matt Lemon

        Do you have any app recommendations in particular that do well at letting you cross things off? I’ve been using Inkpad Notepad but kind of looking for something else. The physical act of crossing off is really helpful for me.

  • Well, you must be talking about me on the first one, because being inside my head has always been a huge struggle for me! Writing ALL the time, in all forms, has helped me so much! I have lists and journal pages galore!!!

  • This reminds me of those items on my to-do list that just keep on migrating to the next to-do list, month after month, week after week. Now I’ll just finally drop them! Thank you for giving me that push haha!

  • Norbu

    Short and to the point :-) totally agree with NatalieLeanne: Do the most important and biggest tasks first when you still are full of energy. Fill your pot with the “big stones” first. The small stones and sand will fit anyhow ;-)

  • Amazing post! I need to work on putting my to-do list in order of importance, I always try to do mine in order of the day, but my plans are always shifting!