I’m a list person – I’m convinced I had To-Do list in utero — be born… check! I’ve always been a great multi-tasker and as a former Event Planner, I needed to be uber-organized and I took (read: continue to take) an unhealthy amount of pleasure from checking things off my list. Then I had children and became a stay-at-home-mom. My To-Do List (‘TDL’), turned into a scroll of never ending stuff with not enough time to get through it. I felt like I was always chasing it, but never really getting anything accomplished. This made me feel frustrated, anxious and frankly it felt like another thing from my past life that I was no longer “good at.”
One day, while telling my best friend about my frustration with my mounting lists and lack of movement on said items, she suggested I look into Bullet Journaling. I remember thinking, “what’s that?!” Am I taking my TDL to the shooting range and kissing it goodbye?! Sounds great, sign me up! It turned out there was no weaponry involved, but I would figure out how to slay my To-Do list once and for all.
Bullet Journaling is a process wherein you keep everything organized in one journal – your calendar (old school style), your TDL, your food journal, your goals, you name it! You can catalog it, color code it and washi tape it to your heart’s content. My inner neat freak was salivating at the prospect. I didn’t end up doing the full journaling process because at the time I was in triage mode and just needed something that wasn’t going to require additional time to create or a ruler. However, I took something from it that has been very helpful for both myself and my clients – the Daily Log.
The Daily Log is a page of your bullet journal (or in my case my entire bullet journal) where you outline everything on your calendar for that day as well as the specific tasks to be completed. This layout, while not revolutionary, is an incredible way to provide single-minded focus. When my TDL is 75 bullets long, I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. I often start one item and I’m distracted by an email or phone call which cascades into a number of other things not related to my original task. Before I know it, an hour has gone by and task number one is still glaring at me only now I’ve run out of time to address it. By committing to only the items on that daily list and reminding yourself when distractions arise that your focus is on these items only for now, you get shit done! In addition, by seeing your schedule for the week all on one page, you can be more realistic about how many things you can actually get done on any given day. You’re also able to see where your windows of time are for exercise and/or self-care. No more – oh I’ll work out if I have time after I finish my TDL. That TDL is like a stalker, always lurking around the corner and it will never be totally complete so my advice to you is to schedule in a few hours of self-care and exercise into your Daily Log and treat it like an important meeting. This will set you up for success.
Here is how it works:
Every Sunday I sit down and draw out the below list on a blank piece of paper. I write the tasks that need to get done that week in the To Do section and then after I’m done plugging in my calendar items for the week, I start designating tasks to each day. Here is where you have to be realistic with yourself – if you’re the chaperon on a school trip, you’re likely not going to be able to attend to your TDL that day and that’s ok – leave that day blank. I advise not having more than 6 to do items on any given day. Be flexible – if you happen to be super efficient one day, feel free to cherry pick from another day’s tasks.
I feel better about my day when I’m accomplishing things because let’s be honest, mothering (or fathering) can sometimes feel like a whole lot of perceived failures throughout the day and we all need a win here and there. Feeling like you’re not being weighed down by what “needs to” get done frees you up for what you want to get done.
Jennifer Khalaf is a Certified Holistic Health and Integrative Nutrition Coach (IIN) working with mothers and families to improve their health in a simple and accessible way. Jennifer specializes in helping moms reclaim their health and seriously increase their joy factor through nutrition and self-care. She offers one-on-one coaching and provides pantry makeovers and cooking demos for families in the NYC area. Jennifer also serves on the board of Tournesol Kids, a non-profit empowering children to lead healthy and resilient lives. Jennifer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two young children who are constantly keeping her on her toes. For more information, follow her on Facebook and Instagram. For more information about Jen’s services or to schedule a free consultation, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.