Last Updated on May 5, 2022
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!
You and me both with a full plate lately. It’s like I’m over-inspired. There’s so much I want to do. As a result I create a to do list that, at the time, feels totally doable. Not so much. Some days I actually laugh at the to-do list wondering what the heck was I thinking. Really? There’s only 24 hours in a day. Ha!
Have a wonderful Monday Catherine!
Yes! I totally feel over-inspired sometimes. I guess that’s better than not being inspired at all, right?! Haha. Sometimes I like to start my day by asking what three things would make the day great, and that kind of helps me put into perspective what most needs to get done!
I think I need one of these planners, my calendars just aren’t cutting it lately.
I recently took a social media detox for four days and stepped away from the screen but now that I am back I’m feeling more overwhelmed and pressured to get caught back up and producing content. Isn’t that the opposite of what this break was supposed to do for me?! Ahhh c’est la vie
Hey, Caitlin! I can definitely relate to feeling like I need to produce content all the time, but I know that if I stress myself out about it too much, I won’t produce the best content.
I love planning and organizing my to-do list and I also love having a daily and weekly plan. Even though I love writing on paper, I discovered that, for me, a digital calendar works best, because it’s easier to move around unfinished tasks.
Hey Ana! I’m totally with you on choosing between paper and digital. I love the feeling of writing things down, but if something changes, it’s a pain to change it! Thanks for reading! <3
I try to do a similar thing but only paper journal, it’s more satisfying when you can cross an item off the list, but more bothersome to carry everywhere. I like the sound of an app and I might try this instead. I also find it easier to do the harder tasks earlier on in the day and then leave the easier stuff till later.
Mind The Medic
I definitely agree with you about the satisfaction of crossing something off. I think that’s why I tend to go between paper and an app! And you’re right about doing the harder tasks earlier. It feels much more satisfying! xo
I need to get back into the habit of of making to do lists and organising my time more effectively.
Sometimes it feels like such a burden to do it, but totally worth it! Thanks for reading, Eme!
Great post. I do the same with scheduling in tasks in the reminders app on my iPhone. I have different categories of tasks then use the ‘scheduled’ tab to view everything I need to get done that day. I work back making my to do list from my monthly goals then break into weekly and daily tasks like you :)
That’s awesome, Nicola! It really does help to look at the big picture and then break it down into smaller chunks.
As for me, I work in bursts. I usually do work when I am the most productive – usually in the morning – just to get it out of the way. This way, I still find time for other things that I want to do.
I think bursts are a great way to get things done! It’s unrealistic to think you can be productive every single moment of the day, so bursts are definitely a great way to make things happen
I’m totally on board with your ideas! I too just recently started scheduling and organizing the way you are. There are a few things you put in your post that I will try out. Thanks! I said I would never live by my calendar or a planner and I LOVE my planner. :) And you’re right, I am much happier that I can get things done and still have me time.
Thanks so much, Rena! Productivity + self-care = a magical formula, if you ask me ;)
Love this! As a busy career woman/Mom of two, I am a devoted list-maker. Lists also help me prioritize self care and exercise. When it’s on the list, no guilt! http://www.mindfulstriver.com/using-lists-to-stay-happy-and-productive/
Lists are the best! I think I’d be lost without one haha!
Great post! Planning my week on Sunday has been a game changer for me!
Love this post. I’m about to start a 20-credit semester with a part-time job and working to launch my new blog. Writing everything down is crucial & I LOVE a realistic schedule. Checking items off makes me feel so productive. It would be interesting to see a post or video on the way you use your planner!
Yes, writing everything down is so crucial! Especially when you’ve got a lot on your plate. I’m planning to do some kind of video about how I plan things – stay tuned! :)
I thought from the first moment I discovered your blog we were soul sisters – after reading this post I know it’s true! I love todoist – I also use a paper planner and I plan everything because my life is so hectic too! Sunday planning is essential – as I read this post I just kept shaking my head, yes, yes, yes! :)
Omg yes, soul sister! Glad to find another like-minded person ;)
I did a lot of this kind of planning when I was a student and it worked really well. I still use it at work sometimes, but mostly for bigger tasks that I need to spread over the week or for things that I might forget if I don’t write them down. In my private life, writing to do-lists and scheduling things mostly ends up making me feel like I failed. I just don’t have the time and energy to keep up with what I would like to do.
Thank you for this post! I have a very stressful and demanding job and I’m looking for ways to balance the other aspects of my life to create more balance. Your post was very helpful in starting this journey!
By the way… where did you get that adorable planner? It looks amazing!
So glad this was helpful, Sammy! I found the planner at Target a while ago. It’s by the company Sugar Paper!
I have been feeling the same way! I am only 14 and a lot of people tell me to take it easy and just go with the flow, but I have felt like everything is slipping away and I am procrastinating too much. I have wanted to achieve many goals over this quarantine. This has eally helped me alot!
I just tried the todoist and I am in love. It’s so neat and organised, and makes me feel super fresh in the morning. Great article!
Ah I love hearing that, Maria!