Strategy List vs To-Do List

Last month when I attended the Atelier Conference, it really got me thinking about how I organize my time and my day. The Mon-Fri, 9-5 part of my day is pretty much spoken for because I work full-time outside of the home, but it’s the in-between time. Brainstorming my next blog post while driving my kids to daycare, cooking dinner and turning it into a recipe to share, getting dressed for work and snapping a quick photo before leaving the house. Sometimes I feel like every second of the day is accounted for.

I used to organize my time with to-do lists; but it felt like my lists were endless. I felt like I would have high hopes for things I wanted to accomplish and ended up being disappointed for the things I didn’t do. My to-do lists were feeling like torture.

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I felt like it was starting to measure my self-worth. If I wasn’t cleaning and doing laundry on the weekend because I was spending time with my kids, I was frustrated come Sunday night that I had piles of laundry and a messy house. If I was cleaning and doing laundry and my kids were asking me to play with them, I felt guilty I was trying to get things done. Something had to give.

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Small tasks that weren’t strategic were taking up a lot of mind space. Do you know what I mean when I say mind space? I would obsess about things I didn’t get done, or what I did get done wasn’t good enough. How could I do/be better? It had to stop. Enter: the strategy list.

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A written plan of action to achieve something.

Example: One strategy could be to make use of your idle time. Maybe while you are waiting for your water to boil for dinner, you wash a few dishes; or while your kids are in the bath, you clean the sink, counter and toilet.

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With blogging, I used to sit down at the beginning of the month and write down all of the blog posts I wanted to get done within the month. Come the end of the month I was frustrated the posts weren’t crossed off. I would start multiple posts and jump back and forth. Now, I just strategize thoughts of posts and if I have started them and I am actively working on them, I count that as a win. The “publish” button doesn’t give me anxiety anymore – after all, blogging is supposed to be fun. I strategize what the post will be about, and if I have started piecing it together, I can cross it off my list. It’s not done, but the plan and thought process is there – the brainstorming is done.

Creating a “completed” list can also give you a sense of accomplishment. It can help you focus on what you did do, as opposed to what you didn’t do. I have gotten into this habit and it has made a huge difference, and freed up some mind space.

Try it out, you may find it makes a difference.

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