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Organize Your To Do list So You Don't Overcommit.

In this face paced world there are so many things that come at us every day. Requests at work for assistance, employees want days off, your inventory shipment of yarn is stuck at customs and no one knows why (lol this is real), your boss has given you yet another task. At home the boys have to go to hockey and the girls have to go to the other hockey rink and your hubs is working late, you need to clean out your closet that looks like Filene’s Basement on Black Friday (also real), you have to make that meal for your neighbor who is ill, and while walking up the stairs this morning to get your coffee you step in a beautiful hairball that the cat hacked up (yup, real). You guys know what I am talking about. All the things listed above are insane but we find a way to manage them. Why? Obviously if the cat puked you must clean it and you need to get your kids to their commitments which are your commitments until you retire from mom or dad’s taxi service. But why are we compelled to say yes to everything or overcommit and say no to things like a pedicure or a nap or just a day of nothing (that is usually knitting and watching tv for me)?

Studies say that over committing is a common issue in the world of psychology. Many people think that if they multitask and do everything on their to do list they will achieve what they want. The result is the opposite. Overcommitment or the inability to say no, delegate, whatever you want to call it, takes away the ability to achieve goals. I am going to scare you for a second… It is ok not to do everything on your to do list!! The to do list is an amazing tool as long as you are doing it right. Your to do list should always be a work in progress and not an ultimatum. Making it a working list allows you to have the sense of accomplishment and it also allows you to know that if you don’t complete a task it can be moved to the next day (1).

Here are some of the ways I organize so I don’t overcommit.

1. Post it note board

2. Trello

3. Good old fashioned calendar

I keep it simple. I am a visual person so this may not work for everyone but these are my tools. First up I love post it notes!! First thing in the morning I will sit while having my coffee and brain dump ideas and things that need to get done. Once I have that on paper I look at what is pressing for the day. You don’t want to make a to do list of everything on your brain dumb because its overwhelming and you are setting yourself up for failure. Just take 3 top priority things that need to happen for the day and throw them on a post it note. Now, if you are over zealous like me I try to do it for the week. This is why the post it note works for me because if you need to move them around you can and you don’t have to worry about erasing or crossing things out on the calendar etc. I use a weekly white board that I found at Target. I get my prioritized post its and place them on the days that way I can see what needs to get done,

and when I am finished with the post it I take it off the white board and throw it away. The throwing away gives you that feeling of completion and getting the task off your plate!!

Trello is basically the digital version of the post it board! If you are computer based this is for you. It is still visual but it doesn’t require paper and it definitely has so many more features and tools that can help you organize and cut time down on finding things. It is more of a storage house for you post it notes along with the ability to make areas where you can duplicate processes and more. It may take a little time for you to set it up but once it is set up you will be so happy and everything is right there at your finger tips. I won’t get into the set up etc. That would be a whole blog in itself. There are great YouTube resources and Pinterest to show you how.

Finally, the good old calendar or planner. My background is psychology so I am a little geeky with the studies and research surrounding organization, crafting, and mindfulness and how it impacts the brain. Studies show that if you write something down such as a to do list, goals, etc. you remember it more than if you have it in your phone or electronically. Also having a system of writing your to do's or goals down rather than not increases the chances you will complete them. When you write your goals or to dos down you are creating a visual of your goal and you are encoding in your brain. In short, Encoding is the process your brain goes through when you analyze, process, and either store in memory or discard. When you write vs typing or storing electronically you increase this process and in the case of goals/to dos, you are more likely to focus on this because it is stored and remembered. This is a hand brain connection which I have discussed before. You not only see your goal in your head you have to recreate it on paper and that act solidifies the goal in your head so you can recall it easily and visualize it. Where as when electronics are utilized that hand brain connection is not there and the vividness and recall is lost. Sure your alarm may alert you but the actual act of remembering the task is lost (2,3). So this is why I love my planner. It is all right there in front of me. I choose a planner that has an area for brainstorming, an area for writing down appointments and other scheduled tasks. It allows for the to do’s and time blocking all at once. My go to planner is the Passion Planner. It is life changing!!

So take a breath and take control of your to do list. There are many other tools out there to do this. How will you get your goals set for the day, week, month, so you don’t fall into the trap of overcommitting yourself?




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