I have a terrible memory. No really. As a full-time creative, my brain wants to ONLY focus on, well, creating! Which leaves much to be desired (and remembered) when it comes to the rest of my life. Especially when it comes to the non-creative tasks.
Just Call Me Dory
I often joke with my closest friends that I need to eat more blueberries and salmon because I read an article once upon a time that said these foods really help with memory retention. I actually love both of these foods, however, I’m not sure that I’ve noticed a huge difference in my memory because off them. So, until recently you’d find me over here humming the tune, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” and hoping that one day the blueberries and salmon might magically kick in…
The Magic Of a To-Do List
Salmon and blueberries not withstanding, I’ve always been a half hearted to-do list maker. I’d write the random sticky note, slap it on the fridge and promise myself (sort of) that I’d complete the tasks on the obnoxiously colored square. If I ended up crossing off one thing, even it was small, my brain loved the dopamine hit and I felt accomplished! It may have only been to clip the dog’s nails, but hey, we all gotta start somewhere, amiright?! And so this was seriously the pattern over the last ten years. Until recently. If you’re like me, you might have had a love of writing lists. But, there’s a huge difference in writing a to-do list…and actually writing and intentionally checking off the tasks on that list.
All The Benefits
There are a TON of ways to implement a to-do list into your everyday life and planning habits. For me, the Bullet Journal is my sweet spot in staying focused, productive, and creative when I have work, clients, personal stuff, and everything else to balance in a seriously busy life. And don’t get me wrong, I am not the girl who loves to act busy because it’s the cool and hip thing to do. It’s just simply become a reality of my life. Yeah, I totally denied this for a really long time, but once I fully realized what was going on, I KNEW I had to make a change or risk losing things falling through the cracks…which isn’t worth the stress, I promise!
And on top off all this apparently, there’s actually something to the whole “to-do list” thing! Go figure! There are a plethora of benefits that come from creating a to-do list, but below I’ll list the top benefits I’ve found (dopamine hit notwithstanding) :
1.) A to-do list can help you set your top priorities.
When I first started taking a to-do list seriously, I used the Productivity Journal. This journal helped me to prioritize the top 5 things I wanted to accomplish in my day, starting with the MOST important task. The idea is that you don’t overload yourself with so many tasks that you become overwhelmed or burn out before you even begin. With only 5 tasks allotted each day, this really helped to train me towards prioritizing what I wanted to accomplish most for that particular day. And I always asked myself, “ If I only accomplished the first thing on my list, would I still feel productive?” This helped my brain to tackle the most important tasks first and work down from there.
2.) Carry on, champ!
This mindset was fantastic in helping me understand that if I didn’t finish my entire 5 tasks for the day, the uncompleted tasks could easily transfer to my to-do list for the next day. This wasn’t an excuse to not complete the other tasks, but simply allowed me breathing room to move tasks because I had already accomplished what was most important first. This also allowed for flexibility and the understanding that life happens and is often filled with unforeseen things. If Aunt Jo happened to be dropping into town and asked to grab coffee, I could easily move the less important things to the following day, to allow for time with her, because at the end of the day, life is important as well.
3.) Keeping Track
Following my to-do list of top 5 projects for the day (even if I moved things around) helps me to consolidate tasks and not waste time. For example: if I’m running my pup to the vet and need to hit up the post office to drop off packages, I can make sure these are both done in the same go as they’re both on the same street. Seeing this on my list assures that I won’t take Ollie to the vet and then go home only to realize I need to go back to where I just was to drop off my packages. By consolidating tasks on my to-do list I can often save time. This saved time can then be allotted to other tasks if needed!
Pro Tip: Are you having to constantly tackle large projects that will take multiple days? That’s okay! Break up those projects into smaller pieces and do a piece each day. That way you’re not trying to face the whole thing at once. You’ll be working on it systematically throughout your week!
4.) I’ll forget but the list won’t
I’m gonna forget stuff. It’s literally inevitable and part of who I am as a human. One of the greatest benefits of creating a to-do list is that even if I forget that I have a blog post due or graphic design project to turn in, my to-do list won’t forget! It’s always got my back and gives me peace of mind knowing that I’m tracking what needs to be accomplished. I literally look at my Bullet Journal constantly. It sits next to my computer when I’m working and is my constant companion throughout the week. When a new task comes my way, I write it down immediately.
5.) Basically, it feels really good.
I mean, let’s be honest, if you’re like me there’s nothing quite like checking off or marking a line through a task on your list! Our brains LOVE the feeling this action brings. So, imagine really sticking to a to-do list that you KNEW you’d be able to complete by the end of the day! If you’re an Etsy shop owner (and I’m betting you are) you have a TON of stuff to get done in a day. Don’t let your running list of 20 things bog you down! Instead, sit down and prioritize that list. Make it simple and achievable. Once you’ve done that, you can work up to 6 things or 7 things. But, if you find that you’re just becoming overwhelmed again, back off. Know that accomplishing ONE task that’s the MOST important is better than writing down 10 things and doing none of them.
Are you currently a to-do list maker? Are you a journal/planner user or do you prefer using your google calendar to track everything? Drop us a comment below! Let us know how you prioritize each day and how you stay productive, whether you’re a list maker or not!