I’m a stay-at-home mom who also has a side hustle. I try to take one day each week where I bring my kids to daycare so I can work through a ton of tasks for my small business and our personal life. Structuring those days has been difficult for me in the past. I came up with an easy system for knocking out to-dos on your workdays. I hope this helps!
Get yourself 3 file folders and label them “Urgent”, “Need to do”, “Want to do”
Put on the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. The song is over 8 minutes. That gives you a good chunk of time to sort. Plus, you hopefully know a lot of the lyrics and can get into a little rhythm with it. I was able to sort my entire desk through this song.
Sort everything into three categories:
I reserve this folder for things that absolutely have to get done. If you don’t get them done it will negatively impact you or your family. These are the things you’ve been putting off that increase your stress. Things that are keeping you up at night.
Sometimes for me, things are a “need to” and I let them go long enough until they fall into the “urgent” category. Recognizing something is urgent, then biting the bullet and getting it done is your best bet.
Things that need to get done but may not have an urgent timeline. They’re things like bills due within the month, papers that need to be filed, invoices that need to be sent, applications to fill out, etc. It might be a post-it note to get back to somebody. For my business, it could be sponsored content I need to create, or emails I need to send out for The Cheesery. You could also stick in some post-it notes with tasks like, “fold two loads of laundry” or “unload the dishwasher.”
The “want to” category will be different for everyone. Some of my current “want tos” include things like creating personal content, going through a stack of photos on my desk, and pouring into a new dream I have that is constantly being put on the back burner. I also stuck in some post-it notes of things like “go for a walk” and “take a shower.”
Step 3: Put your plan into action.
First, I clear out the “Urgent” folder. If I don’t get these things done, they will eat at me and affect my progress on the “need to” and “want to” folders. Sometimes my Urgent folder takes me a couple of hours to get through. Sometimes, only a few minutes. If it’s something that will take more than a day to work through, set a timer to spend at least 2 hours working through it.
Next, work through two items in the “need to” folder. Pick out a couple of short ones, or choose to take more time on a couple of longer “need tos” depending on how your day is going… and/or how full your Urgent folder was.
Then, take one “want to”. Some of my “want to” items are things that will take me multiple days/weeks to work through. Here’s where I try to find balance. I spend time doing one shorter “want to”, like going for a walk or sorting through photos. Or, I choose to spend an hour working on one of the more time-consuming things in my “want to” folder.
This system really helped me have a productive day at home without my kids. And it helped me clear off my desk and organize all that I need to get done. After putting this into practice, I feel like I’ve got a better handle on all the tasks at hand and it doesn’t seem nearly as overwhelming. I hope it helps you too!