The Must-Do List


It occurred to me last night, almost completely at random, that I need to put into practice a new way of measuring my productivity during the day. Those of you that either manage yourself at a 9-5 job, or work for yourself from an office, co-working space, or the comfort of your own home can probably sympathize with me. On any given day there is a laundry list of task that I could be doing or probably should be doing. There's rarely a finite set of must-accomplish-this-by-12pm-today-or-your-boss-will-be-really-upset tasks. 

Some people thrive in this sort of working scenario, and some days I really do. But to be honest this lack of structure bothers me and causes me sometimes crippling anxiety. I worry that I'm spending my time allowances in the wrong places. I worry that I'm working towards accomplishing things that don't matter. I worry that I'm not succeeding at anything. 

Last night, as I laid in bed, attempting to sleep, a thought popped into my head. I need a way to measure my successes that isn't a to-do list necessarily. I need a way to measure what it takes for me to feel good about what I've accomplished during the day. 

This all goes back to being mindful of how long I'm working & how well I'm working. There are two extremes to monitoring your workday. There's accomplishing too much and feeling constantly exhausted because the list never ends & there's being swamped by too many tasks that I can't figure out where to start. I need to stay right in the middle there. I need to define what my work load looks like everyday. I need a must-do list. 

This week I'm going to try out a new system. Each night I'm going to write out a few things that I'd like to accomplish each day, that I'm telling myself are the big to-dos, the must-dos if you will. That way I can tell ahead of time what my day NEEDS to look like. 

  • Plan two blog posts.
  • Finalize & Deliver a session.
  • Do laundry.
  • Shoot a mini-session with Writes Like a Girl. 
  • Hang up our hats. 
  • Unbox some stuff. 

I think the stress has gotten to me particularly because we've been moving and I've had to both unpack my life & continue to focus on everything here, but I'm really excited to have some sort of benchmarks for the day. 

With this list, that honestly feels neither impressive or difficult right now, I'm also coupling it with one other thing.

If I accomplish these tasks I also give myself full permission to feel like today was a total success. I can feel like I did my job, accomplished a lot, and I resolve myself from worrying about whether or not I'm a success, because today I am. If I don't accomplish the things on the list, I also resolve that the unfinished tasks move to tomorrow's list. I was probably too busy doing other equally important things and therefore I'm still awesome.

This attitude is, of course, in hopes of moving into feeling successful everyday, before I've accomplished anything. 

Managing yourself is equal parts hard & awesome. I want to focus more on the awesome. 

How do you manage your daily tasks?