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Lately, I’ve had a lot on my plate. At this point, you’re probably tired of me complaining about trying to balance everything in my life because, duh, all of us are. But since finding balance is a big theme for me right now and I know there are a lot of us struggling with it, so I feel the need to share some of my world with you.
At the moment, my time is split between a full-time job, blogging, and grad school, plus everything else that comes with being in your mid-twenties (you know, trying to eat well, getting enough sleep, saving money, and all that good stuff).
There are weeks when I look at my to-do list and my anxiety levels go through the roof because it seems humanly impossible to finish everything in time.
I’m sure you’ve been there. You might even be there right now. I feel you, I really do.
You’ve probably felt completely overwhelmed and had to prioritize some not-so-fun things because they simply need to get done. And you’ve probably felt like you have absolutely no time to do the things that bring you joy.
So what can we do to manage our to-do lists while still making time for the things we love?
The Solution? Schedule In Your Tasks
Recently, the number one thing that’s allowed me to make time for the things that need to get done AND the things I love i.e. blogging, meditation, baking, etc. is scheduling in my to-do list items at specific times during the day.
I know this sounds a little type A (and I’m not a type A person). I totally get that. I also realize that this isn’t a groundbreaking discovery in terms of productivity tools, but I’ve never been the kind of person to schedule in my tasks until now.
Lately, it’s gotten to the point that if I don’t schedule in tasks at a specific time of day, I won’t know which one to do first and I’ll just procrastinate until everything piles up and I feel like I’m being crushed by the weight of the world (so dramatic, I know).
I’m not talking about scheduling in bathroom breaks or tiny, little details like that. I’m talking about scheduling in my most important tasks and spreading them throughout the day.
This means I don’t complete one thing and later have no idea what to do next. Scheduling my tasks has definitely helped reduce my tendency to procrastinate, and I’ve proven to myself that I actually have time to fit in the things I want to do for me.
Example of how I make it work
Typically each week, I sit down on a Sunday and write down everything I need to accomplish for the week (at least the things I know about at that point in the week). I look at things like homework assignments, work requests/projects, blogging tasks, grocery shopping, etc. I also think about the types of things that I want to schedule in, such as yoga, baking, dinner with friends, and meditation.
I then schedule each item throughout the week using Todoist aka my favorite to-do list app of all time. I’ll also make a note of due dates for projects and schedule in my app to work on it a few days before it’s due. For example, if a homework assignment is due on a Wednesday, I might add a task to start working on it either on Monday or Tuesday.
P.S. Even if you’re a die-hard paper planner and the idea of using an app completely turns you off from this process, I think you could still do this in a paper planner, especially if you have one with time slots. I tend to switch between paper and digital planning, but for this particular method, I prefer using Todoist.
Since I’ve already scheduled everything I anticipate needing to get done throughout the week, I have an idea of what needs to get done on each day. Of course, random tasks get added throughout the week because life loves to throw surprises at us, but I try to prioritize what’s urgent/most beneficial at the time.
I’ll take a look at my day and see what’s most urgent and order my list that way. Then, I add a time that I plan to start each task. For example, if I need to send out important work emails, I might schedule that in for 9am when I get to work. I’ll estimate how long that will take (probably 15 minutes) and give myself a buffer. The next task might be to get started on a bigger project, so I’ll schedule that for 9:30am until noon or something like that. Essentially, I schedule in all of my tasks at certain times throughout the whole day.
I also try to schedule in time between tasks so that I have well-deserved breaks, and if I get something done earlier than I anticipated, I’m free to do as I please.
Related Post: Planning vs. flowing: How to find the right balance
I’ve also been using this method to avoid wasting my time after work. I try to do homework at 6pm for about an hour, and I’ll schedule in yoga or baking or something else fun at 7pm. Around 8pm, I’ll work on a blog post or finish up another school assignment, and then later I might schedule in meditation around 10pm before I got to bed.
This might seem like the most boring way to live life to some people. Scheduling in everything? Yeah, I completely understand that. But honestly, I don’t want to waste the precious moments I have because I’m working hard to create the life that I want. I should also note that I don’t stick to this method 100% of the time because I do need a little freedom in my life; however, I find that when I do follow it, I’m much more productive and therefore less stressed out.
I’m not saying it’s the only way to get things done, but it’s definitely a trick that’s been working for me lately. If you’re in a similar situation as me where you’re constantly juggling lots of projects and responsibilities, try this method out and let me know if it helps you be more productive and responsible with your time.
How do you manage your to-do list and make time for yourself? Let us know in a comment below!