Not being able to finish their to-do list is a common issue for women who come to me for coaching. They work hard. They spend their days running around and checking things off their to-do list. They fall into bed at night exhausted and there are still things left on the list.
I remember this feeling well from many years ago. I was exhausted and guilt ridden. I fell into bed and lay there, my mind going over all things I didn’t finish and my heart feeling heavy. As I talk to clients I find they feel the same. They wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” “What am I doing wrong?” “When will I have time to relax?” “Will I ever get time for me?” “Am I a bad wife/partner/mother/daughter/employee/boss?”
I don’t want you to live like this so let’s get a tool to help you figure out what’s happening.
One quick way to assess the situation is to spend a week using a calendar instead of a to-do list. Instead of writing a list of things you want to accomplish, grab your online calendar app or your paper calendar and a pencil then write in each thing you’re going to do. And I mean everything!
- Are you going to eat dinner? Write it in.
- When will you cook that dinner? Or when will you go pick up the take out? Write it in.
- Do you have an appointment to drive to? Write in the drive time as well as the appointment.
- Are you going to drive anywhere else? This includes driving kids to practice, your parents to an appointment, or yourself to the store. Write it in.
- Will you be working? Write it in.
- Will you run errands on the way home? Write it in.
- Do you want to chat with your kids after school or help them with homework? Write it in.
- And leave some small pockets of time. 15 minutes here and there (more pockets and 30 minute blocks if you have young kids), because life happens. You need to answer phone calls, use the bathroom, field questions from family, friends, and co-workers and that all takes time.
It may seem silly to write down eating dinner or picking up take out but this lets you see exactly how you spend your day. It also shows you how much time you spend doing things and how much time you really have available.
Remember those times when you try to tell someone what you did all day and it comes out, “I don’t know what I did but I’m exhausted from doing it!” Part of the reason for this is you spent much of your day taking care of life. You were putting out fires and dealing with all those important things that need to happen but don’t get put on a to-do list. Women tend to discount things like prepping and eating food, drive time, and small chores. Those things don’t end up on your calendar or to-do list yet they still use up your time.
And what about that to-do list? When you write a to-do list you just see a list. There is no sense of time associated with the items and you don’t know when or how, or even if, they fit in your day.
So take one week and fill in absolutely everything you do. It will give you a much clearer picture of how you spend your time and what you actually expect to accomplish. And feel free to give me a shout if want support in doing this or dealing with the situation you uncover.