Tired of Unfinished To-Do Lists? Try This!

Do you ever get tired of making a to-do list only to do none of it?  The unfinished list isn’t because you’re lazy or unmotivated – you just don’t have time to get it done!  I’ve been there and done that and it gets old fast.

Unfinished To-Do List
Unfinished To-Do List

I was a stay-at-home mom for years and then went back to work full-time for two years.  I was surprised at how little I was getting done at home.  I lowered my expectations – several times – but still was frustrated at how little I could get done.

Finally I sat down with my schedule and made a list of everything I HAD to do – things like sleep, work, fix dinner, eat, etc.  I was shocked at how little time was left.  I had about an hour each evening and a few more hours on the weekend.  No wonder I couldn’t get anything done.

So my new strategy for my to-do list was to make a list of tasks that would take an hour or less.  All I had was an hour so there was no point in planning more than that.  When I made my list, I considered how long each item would take.  Sometimes there was only one item on the list and sometimes there were several.  But the rule was they couldn’t add up to more than an hour.

Planner Page Sample 3

Planner Sample 2

After two years of full-time employment, my husband and I decided it would be best for our family if I came back home full-time.  When I came back home, I thought I would have lots and lots of time.  But I was surprised to find that I didn’t.  And my to-do list was frustrating me again.

Out came the schedule for another look at what was wrong!  It turned out to be a combination of things including a new grandchild and a new blog.

So I pulled out the strategy I used while I was working, modified it a little, and came up with this plan:

1.       Have a master list of things that need to be done.  You can group the list by category or urgency or just lump it all together.  I lumped it all together but put asterisks next to the items that were more important.

2.       Use a planner page that has a schedule.  On the schedule, mark out the times that are committed.  Here’s an example:

planner page sample 5

planner page sample 4

3.       Figure out how much time is left and plan accordingly.  If there’s no time, nothing goes on the list.  If there’s an hour, plan an hour’s worth of to-do’s.

And that’s it.  This system allows you to plan based on how much time is available and that gives you a greater chance of success.  And success, i.e. checking the right things off your list, not only makes you feel good about your life but it also helps you keep your ducks in a row.  Regardless of how busy we are, certain things still have to be done!

So if you’re really busy and your list isn’t getting done, maybe this system could get you back on track.

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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15 thoughts on “Tired of Unfinished To-Do Lists? Try This!

  1. Love the timing of this post, I was just recently laid off from my job. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a whole day to myself. I want to make sure to get the house in order, And my garden since I am home. It’s only been a couple of days but I realize I need to make a list of things that need to get done every day and a list of things I would like to do everyday. The only thing I’m carving out Specifically is to exercise It’s something I haven’t done in a long while and figure I want to take advantage since I am home.

    1. Yes – it’s so important to have a plan. Otherwise, you spend time on things that really didn’t need done and neglect the things you wanted/should do. At least that’s how it works for me. Sorry about your job, though.

  2. I’m a big list-user, but yes those un-done items haunt me. Thinking about them in terms of how much time you realistically have is a good strategy.

  3. Great tips. I work full-time and have 3 kids, so I have to be super organized. I am all about the “list.” I try to set aside different tasks for different days when I know I might have more time. I’ve also done a better job delegating, outsourcing. And at the end of the day, is something slips … well, there is always another day. 🙂

    1. Sounds like you have it under control. I love the idea of different tasks for different days. I do that, too. And delegating and outsourcing is always good!!!

    1. You made a great point about re-evaluating on a regular basis. Things change all the time and our time management/organizing needs to change, too. One system doesn’t last forever. Quarterly re-evaluation sounds perfect.

  4. Okay, so I got very behind. But I’m catching up now.

    I love these tips. My problem isn’t usually about having enough time, it’s about having enough energy. But I can budget energy just like you budget time. I can break down the things I need to do into how much energy they will take and choose what to work on according to how I feel that day. I think this is going to work for me. Thanks!

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