Years ago, my husband and I went hiking in Acadia, in northern Maine. As we were coming back down the trail, we kept thinking that the trail would end around the next bend. Around the next bend, we’ll be back at the car. This went on for some time. It seemed the trail was never going to end!
We still joke about it. It’s become a mantra in our lives whenever something seems to be taking longer than it should. It’ll end around the next bend.
Maybe this is how you feel about your to-do list. That you’ll get through it soon. It has to get shorter sometime, right? If you just keep chipping away at it. Skipping sleep. Not taking breaks.
Around the next bend.
Let’s be honest. In this case, it’s not going to end around the next bend. There will always be something on our to-do list. It might feel more manageable some days or weeks. But there will always be tasks.
I’m not telling you this to make you sad and feel defeated. I want you to make the realization that it’s ok to take a break from the list. To put something fun on it. Or even put it in a drawer for the afternoon and go do something for yourself.
Then, after that break, come back and let’s talk about how to handle the never-ending list. When you really feel like you don’t have the time to deal with what’s on it. Or to even make a dent in the list.
Where do you start?
Start with a brain dump. Take 10 minutes and write down everything that’s floating around in your head. All the ideas and tasks. Find the post-its and notes you’ve left everywhere. Get them all in one spot. Pull out tasks lost in your emails.
Once you have all the tasks in one place, it’s easier to see your priorities. It can’t all be a priority, so you’ll need some guidelines here. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the quickest / closest deadlines?
- What is making my business money?
- What project do I need to get started on soon?
- Are there tasks on here that I can delete or delegate?
What are the next steps?
Next, write out each step, as small as possible for all your projects. This helps you get moving on your projects because you know the next steps.
You can’t claim you don’t have the time, because you can make the time for small steps.
What are your goals and values?
Another place to start from is understanding what’s important to you. When you know your goals for your business and your family, you can easily identify the tasks that get you there. Anything else can be deleted.
The next part is learning to say no. When you know what’s on your plate, you know if another project or client is the right fit.
Remember, future you is just as busy as today you. Only say yes to something in the future if you would say yes to it tomorrow.
Saying yes to a big project means saying no to something else.
Maybe a goal of yours is to spend more time with your family or on exercise or to create another part of your business. Saying yes to a new project or client might take away from that. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
That to-do list might never end, even around the next bend. But you can take back control and deal with it in a way that works for you. So the trail doesn’t feel so long. And you can enjoy the scenery along the way.
If you want more ideas on how to deal with that never-ending to-do list, sign up below for weekly tips and tricks!