Does your teen get overwhelmed by all the things they have to do?
Do they sometimes have a never ending to-do list that gets them down or stresses them out?
In fact, re-write that… Don’t we all have that and feel that, most of the time?!!
I’ve always got a long to-do list and am sometimes (Okay, often) guilty
of adding way too much to that list,
as I have a tendency be a bit over-ambitious or with predicting how much I can do in a day or a week.
(I prefer to call it being ‘optimistic’) 😉
But I’ve gradually developed and honed a ‘not-a-list’ to-do system/blueprint/regime/whatever-you-wanna-call-it that I now swear by and teach all my personal coaching students to do.
And I’m gonna share it with you 🙂
(Note to self – think of a cool name for this system… ideas in an email please!)
This ‘system’ is a simple (no tech-y project management software needed, nor crazy-weird special diaries you can only get online from Sweden or wherever).
way to getting everything that needs to be done, done.
And without any added stress or feeling guilty when you’re not slaving away.
(Because yes, I used to be guilty of feeling guilty if I wasn’t working when there was oh-so much on that looooong to-do list. Until I got this sussed).
Now, It’s no secret to anyone who knows me or has been a part of this grade transformation community for some time, that I’m a person who likes to keep busy. I’m a do-er and a planner and I love a project.
And therefore I’ve always got a long to-do list and can often be guilty of adding way too much to that to do list as I can be a bit over ambitious with predicting how much I can do in a day or a week.
(And then moaning to my husband, Alistair, that I’m way too busy and I’ve got too much to do! He, of course, then reminds me that I was the one that gave myself those jobs in the first place, and then I sheep-ishly agree with him and go back to what I was doing, minus any sympathy I was hoping for).
The point is, there are a lot of positives to this – getting lots done, being efficient with my time, but it can also lead to feeling overloaded and overwhelmed if I’m not careful.
So, I’ve gradually developed a system that prevents these negatives and helps me stay calm and on top of life – (most of the time!!… Hey, no-one and no system is totally perfect!) 😉
And I thought I’d share it with you as it’s pretty simple and could be enacted by your teen too if they feel it might work for them.
First up: I DON’T make a to-do list.
I’ll say that again.
I NEVER write out a full to-do list.
I used to – and it was simply… overwhelming.
Plus of course I never got to the end of it, because as I’d cross things off over a few days, naturally, more things would just get added.
Know the feeling??!
So I never felt like I could just relax or watch some TV or chill out, without feeling guilty or twitchy that I should be doing something more productive, something to tick off that list.
Here’s what I do instead.
There are three parts to it:
1) I break down every task into specific actions
2) I then write each action into a specific day in my diary.
So in my diary I have specific things on specific days.
Things like anyone has in their diary – dentist appointments, coffee dates etc.
But I also have my tasks and work to do.
3) Once I’ve completed a task, I highlight it.
And yes, I even highlight the fun stuff like the coffee dates (because, everyone loves to cross things off a list right?!)
This system means I still have a visible record of what’s been done when,
because it’s not just a piece of paper or a post-it note that’s gonna get thrown away.
I can still see any outstanding tasks AND I get the glory; that sense of satisfaction, by highlighting as a way of crossing off, the item.
(Note: pretty highlighter colours can help boost that enjoyment factor just a tad more too) 🙂
So the rules are:
– No general list.
– No big projects that are going to take more than an hour or two to complete. If they are bigger than that, they need to be broken down more.
- If it’s something small, or stand alone, like a phone call I need to make, then rather than just writing it on a piece of paper or as part of a random list, I note it down on the day I plan to do it with the time and any other details.
Then, once it’s done, I highlight it.
- What about a task that requires more than a short one-off action? Or, more than an hour or two of work?
I’ll give an example of my coaching sessions I do with my Gold and Platinum students.
Of course I put the actual coaching session with the timing in my diary – with a buffer either side.
But there are also other tasks associated with a coaching session, and they get broken down and written in on specific days too.
I’ll put in my diary three days before to email the student and confirm the session date and time. Plus, if we haven’t already arranged what we’ll cover, I’ll ask what they want us to work on in their session.
I also put in prep time.
That goes in my diary for the day before the session.
I don’t like to do this too far in advance as I want everything to be fresh in my mind and as up to date as possible.
And then finally, I put in a note the day after our session to write it up and send through the summary document I produce, along with any resources or other help I’ve planned to pass on to the student.
So, this keeps it clear exactly how much work is involved and doesn’t leave me struggling to fit in all those other elements beyond the coaching session itself.
The beauty of this system is that it not only helps me stay on top of absolutely everything;
even the small things that are associated with a task that could otherwise slip through the net or be rushed, or just add to my overwhelm if they aren’t planned for and written down.
But, it also:
++ encourages the act of breaking down any project into manageable pieces,
++ helps me track my progress
++ stay motivated and positive by seeing all the tasks I’ve accomplished
++ keeps those to-do lists much smaller and more manageable each day.
Instead of seeing 20 things to do, I might have 4 or 5.
ONE MORE IMPORTANT THING!…
I’ve had to train myself to only look at one day on any particular day.
That’s a really important part of it.
I have to tell myself to “just get those things done and trust that if I do, and I do that each day, then everything will be taken care of.”
THE OTHER BIG POSITIVE:
Finally, those smaller daily lists mean I can actually relax at the end, guilt-free.
If I’ve gotten everything done for the day, I can rest easy knowing that life is under control and can take some time to chill out and do whatever else I want, without worrying about the other things left to do, because I know they are programmed in for another day. Not for today.
Ahhhhh- guilt-free relaxation!
But of course, this is just what works for me and has worked for many other students I’ve shared this with and have enacted it.
Feel free to tweak and adjust.
And of course, there might be something that works even better!
Plus, hey, everyone’s different. What works for one, may not for another, and vice-versa.
So leave me a comment and let me know what systems work for you and your teen,
and until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!