This is a powerful perspective shift! We hate to say it, but you’re the one who creates your to-do list, you’re the one who executes your to-do list. You’re the one choosing to check things off the list. That’s right. You have the power to choose what needs to get done! You don’t actually need to get anything done!
Ask yourself what you actually have to do from your list. Ask yourself questions like:
Another thing. You have to remember that perfect actually means complete. As teachers, we tend to be perfectionists. Sometimes, done is better than perfect! Next time you’re trying to do each task perfectly, ask yourself if this is a situation where good enough is good enough.
Our next tried and true tip for mastering your to-do list. At the end of each day (or pick a time of day that works for you), first, consolidate your list (you know when you end up with 20 post-its on your desk with reminders to do something? That only causes more overwhelm!) and then, pick the 1 to 3 most important things to get done the next. Circle or highlight these things.
This will do 2 things for you: You’ll be more focused on what’s actually more important to get done, and therefore, you will feel more accomplished. Your brain will no longer be all over the place. Secondly, you will end your day knowing exactly what’s going on, which means less stress in your life and a greater sense of control.
It’s hard for educators to hear, but the human brain is not made for multitasking! Studies have shown that it takes your mind time to switch gears from one task to another, so everytime you change tasks you lose time. So put that phone away, close your inbox, and set yourself up to eliminate all distractions as much as possible.
Focus only on your 1-3 things mentioned above and commit to doing just one thing at a time, no distractions! See how quickly you get through that (now) short list and feel a sense of accomplishment!
Ok, so you may have heard some of the tips we’ve already shared here. But this one was the major game changer for us!
It’s called gratitude.
When train our brain to focus on and notice the good things, over time it will become a habit. And when we notice things for which we are grateful, we feel better, less stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and worried, and instead, we feel happy, calm, and accomplished.
So at the end of each day, on your to-do list itself or in a journal, write down in point form 3 or more things you’re grateful for or that you’re grateful to have checked off your to-do list! This simple 2 minute activity will leave you with that oh-so-needed feeling of accomplishment.
We hope these simple yet powerful practices are helping you to improve your relationship with your to-do list.
Remember, it will take time for these new habits to become concrete (you are literally changing the wiring of your brain!). Have compassion and patience with yourself along the way to mastering your to-do list! As you develop these habits over time, we hope you feel less overwhelmed and more accomplished!
To go even deeper on this topic, listen to our episode on The Balanced Educator Podcast below.
Share this post on Pinterest so other educators can learn concrete strategies to form healthy habits this school year.
Let us know in the comments, which of these to-do list strategies will you put into action today?