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how to make your to-do list less stressful

January 26, 2022

Life is overwhelming, and when it’s time to sit down and consider everything that needs to be accomplished in a week, or even a month, we can become burdened with the thought of it all. Time is moving too fast, it seems, to do everything we know we need to get done. Making a list is a great place to start when it comes to organizing your thoughts, but when we’re stressed, even an organized list can seem to fuel the chaos. There are multiple ways, simpler ways, to manage your time and productivity without feeling burdened and overwhelmed. Not to mention, getting things onto paper after they’ve been stuffed inside your head all day can be so relieving! Let’s begin by focusing on only today.

Take things one day at a time

Yes, there is always a bigger picture in life, but to keep stress levels low and productivity high, it’s important to go one step at a time. A puzzle would be impossible to solve if we didn’t look at the pieces individually first. On a Monday morning, when you’re considering your week, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I need to finish today that absolutely must be done today?
  • Is there anything on my ‘today’ list that isn’t an actual priority?
  • Have I left any room on my list for a period of rest?

Resting is an important thing to prioritize. If you’re not mindful of your time, you’ll spend the entire day rushing around and become burnt out. Resting and revitalizing yourself is a key component in task management.

Once you’ve considered today, consider the coming week

After today comes tomorrow, and so on. Think of Monday through Sunday. What major tasks must be completed? Try ordering your weekly list like this:

  • The main largest tasks you must complete
  • The secondary tasks you need to finish
  • The loose strings to be tied up by the end of the week

Be sure to order them by importance, and how long it will take to complete each one. Don’t do every single large task in one day or you’ll wind up exhausted, and that will make you slow-moving the next day or two. Pick one big task and a few small ones each day. There’s nothing wrong with spreading things out to increase your productivity. It’s not procrastination if you’re completing your work. Not everyone works the same, neither mentally nor physically, so find a timeline that works with your mental clock and physical self.

Take a look at the month as a whole

Now that you’ve broken down your tasks into small pieces, put them together like a puzzle. It’s much less intimidating this way, isn’t it? You can see now how your time will be managed, and you have a plan set in place to get it done. Marking it all down, either on paper or on a calendar, will give you that visual aspect, and put your mind at ease. Consider these things when you’re glancing at the month to come:

  • I can do whatever I set my mind to
  • I will give myself the opportunity to rest and recharge
  • I will not let stress control my life
  • These tasks are important, but so is my mental health
  • This is not too much

If anything sticks out to you as unnecessary, remove it from the list. Don’t weigh yourself down with anything that isn’t needed. Remove the fluff and extras. Also, double-check and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. This way, you’re sure to feel confident that you’re ready to set out and accomplish your tasks.

The big picture

This is your life, and these tasks make up certain parts of it. That being said, you’re more than your work, chores, or obligations. While those things are so important, so is taking care of yourself. You can’t accomplish anything if you’re constantly burdened and overwhelmed. Pencil in plenty of time for yourself and your family, and make sure you’re a priority.

Don’t let a long list of tasks make you feel inadequate, stressed, or mentally drained. Use these tools to your advantage and take control of your daunting to-do list! That list doesn’t have to be such a scary monster! Knowing and planning for what’s next will give you the advantage in the game of life, and that overwhelming feeling will be a distant memory. Stay organized!


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