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I took one more look at my to-do list.  It covered an entire sheet on a legal pad.  Yikes!  It looked so long and daunting.  I almost broke out in hives just looking at it.  How on earth am I supposed to ever get all of this done, work 40+ hours a week, be a wife & mom, clean the house, go to church, take care of my family’s massive calendar AND do all of this?  How on earth indeed?? I immediately began daydreaming about being able to get all of this stuff done.  If only I had super powers.  Every single time I marked off one thing, I replaced it with two more things. 

41% of items on your to-do list are most likely not going to get done.  Wow!!  That is almost half!!  So, why do you think these tasks will not get done?  Why would you take the time to write them on the list, if there is a big chance you won’t even get to them?  What if I told you that you have entirely too much stuff on your to-do list?

What if I told you with a little finessing, you could eliminate half of the items on your to-do list right from the get-go? Here how to eliminate most of your to-do list without actually completing any items on your to-do list.

someone writing a to do list

Use the sign-in form below to get a workbook that will help you tame your schedule once and for all.  It is free, so what do you have to lose, right?  You will learn how to end survival mode, how to feel like you can breathe again, and how to schedule your priorities. Sign-up below.

This post will help you figure out your pesky to-do list once and for all.  You will be able to brain dump and get your to-do list all on paper, and then categorize it using the ABCDE method.  From there, you will figure out which items are important, urgent, need to be delegated, or need to be eliminated once and for all.  This is guaranteed to save you hours per week.  So, if that interests you, keep on reading!

A great method for managing your busy to-do list is the ABCDE method.  Now, you probably have never heard of this method before, but stay with me, because it is a total game changer!!  This will help you prioritize your list and make sure the items need to be on there in the first place.

The first thing to do is to get your to-list on paper.  Even the items floating around in your head.  You are a woman, so I KNOW there are items on your mental to-do list.  LOL!

Brain dump and get all of your mental to-do list items from in your head onto paper.  Just write down everything you have floating around in your head even if you think is minor and doesn’t matter.  Write down everything, literally.

First things first.  Let’s go over some actual definitions of words that often get misconstrued in today’s society.  Urgent and important.

Urgent is a word that gets misunderstood or misinterpreted in today’s world.  The true dictionary definition of urgent is requiring immediate action or attention.  The key word here is immediate.  A lot of people put things into the urgent category that DO NOT require immediate action.

Urgent items from a productivity standpoint are no different.  They are items that need to be done today.  They are important AND have to be done today.

Examples of things that fit into the urgent category: crises, deadlines, problems, interruptions, meetings, activities, therapy appointments, dr. appointments, etc.

Important means (according to the dictionary) of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.

Example of items that fit into the important category: crises, deadlines, problems, relationships, planning, recreation, getting groceries so you can eat, working on your goals, chores at home, etc.

So, we have important and we have urgent.  They are not the same thing.  Sometimes, with some items, they can overlap, but not always.

For example, getting groceries is not urgent.  They can be if you are out of food.  But it is important to have food in your house so you can eat.  Therapy appointments are at a certain time, so they are urgent.  They are also important because they have a high value.

So, now that we know the true definition of urgent and important, we are ready to get started.  We are going to use the ABCDE method to go over our to-do list and help us prioritize it.

Here is each category of the ABCDE method:

A: Urgent AND Important

Go down your to-do list and put an “A” beside the items that are both urgent AND important.  Only you can really tell which ones are both urgent and important based on your life.  But at the end of the categories, I have an example of my to-do list with ABCDE beside each item.  Ex: Crises, deadlines, problems, therapy appointments, dr. appointments.

B: Important, but NOT Urgent

Now it is time for the “B” items.  These are items that are important, but NOT urgent.  Ex: relationships, planning, recreation, goal setting, errands, getting groceries (unless you are out of them- LOL), meal planning to shop smarter at the store.

C: Not Important, but Urgent

Put a “C” by all of the important items that are not urgent. Ex: interruptions, meetings, activities, etc.  These are most likely to be important to other people and not necessarily you.

D: Delegate

These are the items that you can delegate to someone else.  Put a “D” next to these items.  Can you get your family to help around the house with chores?  Can you do Walmart grocery pickup and ask your husband to pick them up on the way home?

Can you ask your mom to take your child to one therapy appointment per week if you pick her up?  Can you hire a maid a couple of times per month to clean your house?

What can you delegate to make your life easier?

E: Eliminate

The “E” items are items that do not need to be on your list altogether.  They are items you can eliminate.  These are items you shouldn’t be doing in the first place.  I used to have some stupid stuff on my to-do list that didn’t matter.

It was like I literally thought every single thought that popped into my head should be on my to-do list to complete.  Not the case for sure!

So, now that you know the definition for the ABCDE method, go down your to-do list and write ABCDE by each item.

Note to my perfectionists out there: Rome wasn’t built in a day.  I need you to really listen to that.  It is true.  This will take time to perfect over time.  It will actually always be a work in progress.  You will get better as you keep doing it.  You don’t have to do it perfectly the first time.

You don’t have to spend an hour on each item figuring out which category it falls into.  Seriously, you aren’t signing up for a 30-year mortgage, you are just categorizing your to-do list.  It isn’t a life or death situation.  LOL!  Just categorize it and move on.

So, now let’s dive into an example.

B Groceries- can be delegated if you want your husband to pick-up the groceries

B Meal plan

B Go to the gym

A Therapy appointments x2

A Dr. appointment

B Schedule annual eye exam for me and husband- can be delegated to your husband

A Complete budget for next month

A Pay bills

B Call YMCA for gymnastics dates for daughter- can be delegated

B Go through medical binder and purge old stuff (This is important, but not urgent.  I don’t         need to do asap at least until before the next Spina Bifida Clinic.)

C Update medical notes for Spina Bifida clinic

A Get open sign for business

C Clean out kitchen cabinets

B Do therapy each day with my daughter

A Balance checkbook

C Purge toys (can be delegated or wait until you have time)

C Clean out filing cabinet (can wait until you have time)

Don’t be afraid to delegate.  Just play off of you and your husband’s weaknesses.  Have the person who would do the task better to complete the item.  I would totally trust my husband to go pick up our grocery order from Wal-Mart and he has in the past.

However, I would not trust him to go get groceries in the store on his own, because he would bring home the whole store and we would be wayyy over budget.  LOL!

He can also call the doctor’s offices and make simple appointments, but if I need to call a doctor’s office and go back and forth with a nurse about an issue my daughter is having, then I better handle it because in that situation I have way more patience than he does.

Don’t be afraid of your to-do list.  I went from having my to-do list in my head to mastering brain dumping and having too much on my to-do list.  You will get this, I promise.  It will take practice and you will never be perfect at it.  So just keep going.  Just keep fine tuning it.

You will probably have too much on your to-do list at first and you can learn how to delegate and eliminate things.  Sometimes, you will need to eliminate or delegate more items because you are just in a busy season of life.

Take the clean out the kitchen cabinets and the purge medical documents items.  If you are in a slower season of life, then you might be able to swing these, and they may be higher up on the list for you.

If you are in a really busy season of life, then those items will more than likely be on the back burner.  If you are moving, they might be close to the top.  Just roll with the punches.  Don’t think too hard on each item.  Just look at each item on your to-do list and make a split-second decision.

Use the sign-in form below to get a workbook that will help you tame your schedule once and for all.  It is free, so what do you have to lose, right?  You will learn how to end survival mode, how to feel like you can breathe again, and how to schedule your priorities.

How is your to-do list?  Is it floating around in your head or a mile long?  Let me know in the comments below.