It had become a routine. After a long day of work the last thing I ever wanted to do was run errands and pick up around my house. Multiply that times five days a week and I now had a weekend loaded with things to do…or so I told myself. I had mastered the art of procrastination and the mantra “I’ll get to it tomorrow” became a common phrase. When Monday morning’s wake up call hit, it usually hit hard. Overwhelmed with the immense task of having even more things to do than before, I decided to work proactively to reduce the stress I was putting on myself. It has worked wonders.
To best manage life stressors make to-do lists your best friend.
That’s right. It sounds simple and unnecessary, but making a list, and more importantly, sticking to the list is as helpful to managing stress as a bloody mary is to a Sunday morning “headache”. Items usually topping my list are what to make for my meals and snacks, a vague outfit idea according to my inaccurate iPhone weather app, errands to run to and from work such as get gas, mail some late thank you cards, a coffee stop, the gym, and grocery shopping.
Disclaimer: my abnormally long list is usually due to the aforementioned weekend procrastination. Learn from my mistakes people.
What I have come to learn is this. Instead of thinking of your to-do list as a tedious inventory of chores change your mindset. Think of your list as a set of intentions to complete that day. Holding yourself accountable to your intentions creates a sense of purpose and achievement. I mean honestly, what a good feeling it is to take pen to paper and scratch out something you’ve been meaning to do for a while. Daily lists are made up of small, obtainable goals that hold a bigger meaning than you realize. Setting your sights upon a goal and completing that goal according to your predetermined timeframe is known to improve self-esteem and time-management, as well as attitude and sense of accomplishment. All while decreasing levels of stress, anxiety, and worry. Plus the more you get done that day is less you have to do during your weekend.
Start small. Make a small list of priority items for one day and see how far you get. If you don’t get around to all of them don’t get defeated. Just add it to next days list. You’ll find list making improves organization, saves you time and stress, and allows you to better remember those last minute notes-to-self you need when running out the door. I sure did.