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Do you spend most of the time feeling overscheduled and unproductive? Today, you are going to discover how to be more mindful of your time, and better manage your schedule using a daily to-do list, also known as every damn day list.
Many people say that on average, their to-do list for the day can range anywhere from 15-25 tasks that need to be accomplished. For most, this kind of list is unattainable.
Typically, the reason you continue to overschedule yourself is that;
- You aren’t aware of how much time a certain task is going to take you, and;
- You aren’t aware of how much time you are spending on the tasks you do every day, such as cooking.
When you aren’t aware of how much time your tasks are going to take you, it is easy to say yes to everything. But the results of this is overscheduling.
On the flip side, when you are aware of how much time something is going to take, you can determine if you can realistically accomplish anything additional in the day, or not. The result of this is a manageable schedule.
So, before you can improve your productivity with a daily to-do list, you first need to understand where your time is being spent. To do this, I highly recommend doing a time audit.
What is a time audit?
The time audit exercise entails tracking how long you are spending on all your tasks throughout any given day, week, month, etc.
The exercise can be done in a notebook if you prefer a traditional pen and paper style, or you can go digital and track everything on a spreadsheet or by using a time auditing app.
How do you do a time audit?
The process for completing a time audit is the same, no matter what tool you choose to use.
You are going to start by looking at your calendar and list out all the different tasks you tend to do daily. Try to break everything up into categories and sub-categories for easier tracking.
Example: If your category is the kitchen, your sub-categories could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, meal planning, meal prepping, grocery shopping, dishes, etc.
As you go through the week, track how much time you are spending, on what task, throughout your entire day. If you work on a task that does not fit into any of your categories, make a new category. You must track everything for this method to be effective!
Using A Notebook
List out each of your categories and subcategories down the length of your page. Choose a symbol to draw beside each category for every fifteen minutes you spend on each task. At the end of the week, add up your symbols to determine how much time was spent overall in each category.
Using an App
Set up your categories within your app, and log everything as you go through the day. At the end of the week, visit the statistics page within the app to analyze your results.
Using A Spreadsheet
Create a column for each category and subcategory that you will be tracking.
As you go through the week, indicate how much time you spend on a certain category in each cell below. Personally, I would do this in minutes, so that at the end of the week, you can use a formula to determine how much time was spent in each category/subcategory.
Analyzing the Data
Once you have done the time audit exercise for at least a week, you should have some great statistics to analyze!
So, what exactly are you looking for? I can’t say for certain because I don’t know your exact schedule or your desired results, but I do have some questions you can ask yourself to get started.
- What areas am I spending way more time on than I thought I was?
- What areas am I spending less time on than I thought I was?
- Do I see any areas where I can reallocate my time to a different category?
- How much of my time was spent on the tasks that I must do every day?
- How much of my time was spent on tasks that I said yes to doing, but probably could have said no to?
- What time was I able to dedicate to my goals?
- Was there any time in my schedule for family and friends?
Take your time and be really honest with yourself when answering these questions. Only you know your schedule, and where you need to be able to invest more time, so ask yourself the challenging questions until you find the answers.
Once you have had a chance to analyze the data, you should be able to confidently answer, where is my time being spent each week?
Now you can take steps towards making a schedule that is practical and attainable! Let’s make your daily to-do list.
What Is The Purpose of The Daily To-Do List?
The reason I like to use a daily to-do list is to free up space on my weekly to-do list.
If these tasks are something you must do every day, then they are more of a habit than something you need to check off of a list.
How to Make A Daily To-Do List?
Using the time audit, list out each of the subcategory items you had to do every day.
Some examples of these daily tasks could be;
- Cooking dinner
- Driving the kids to school
- Commuting to work
- Checking your emails
Include how much time, on average, it was taking you to do these tasks while you did your time audit exercise.
*Tip: You could even turn this into a daily routine if you would like! This will provide you a nice visual of what your day looks like around these daily tasks.
How To Use The Daily To-Do List To Better Manage Your Schedule?
Now that you have a clear understanding of how your time is being spent, you can use your daily to-do list to better manage your schedule.
Take some time to calculate how much time you have leftover during the day once you have completed your daily to-do list.
Keeping that time in mind, be mindful of how long you think a task will take you to complete if you add it to your to-do list on your weekly or daily planner.
5 Planning Tips To Help You Stay Intentional About Your Time
- On each day of the week in your planner, write down how much extra time you have to complete tasks that day. Some days may look different depending on your work schedule, when you have your kids at home with you, family commitments, etc.
- On your weekly to-do list, take your best guess for how long a task will take you. If it something completely new to you, be sure to give yourself extra time. When you write the tasks down under the corresponding day of the week, be sure to include the time goal with it.
- Always leave some wiggle room within your schedule in case something takes longer than you originally thought. If you find yourself with spare time, you can either take the time to complete something else on your weekly list, or you can relax, and enjoy the time however you please.
- Always keep your planner on you. This will help you stay mindful of the time you have.
- Keep a list of the reasons you want to spare up some more time. Sometimes, the most motivating thing we can do for ourselves is to remind ourselves of our why. I know it can be challenging to say no to doing things for people, but remember, every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. If you tell your sister that you can bake her cake, you could be giving up reading time with your daughter, or your date night with your husband.
Managing your schedule can be challenging at times, but if you follow the steps as outlined above and make a commitment to be more intentional about your time, you will see a great improvement!
Have you completed a time audit before? Let me know in the comments below what you discovered about how you spend your time!
Until next time!