My Personal To-Do List Strategy

Self-employment can be the best thing in the world, but it can also be an incredible challenge. I wake up each day and everything is up to me. Outside of my clients & classes, no one really cares what I do. No one asks me the status of my latest blog post, what I’m doing to expand my visibility online, what my 2013 growth strategy is, or whether or not I’ve done the billing this month. If I want to get a new program or product of the ground, it’s up to me to move it forward.

to do list

And every day I have a choice. I can go back to bed, I can watch Ellen, I can talk on the phone, or I can do the things that will grow my business in a way that will help me fulfill my goals and dreams.

Thankfully, I love what I do. So most days I WANT to write articles, I want to create new online programs, I want to connect with you, and I want to plan great sessions for my clients. But just like with everything in life, there is a balance to be found.

I don’t talk about my personal life too much on here, but we’re going there today. 🙂 The past few years my husband has been in grad school at night and I was left with a lot of time to fill on my own. So I worked. I worked like crazy. I worked to the point of near burn out. I taught all day, wrote in-between clients, spent my nights developing online programs, participated in Twitter chats to make new online connections, you may remember my schedule that I shared in this earlier post.

Not only was I working too much. My mind never turned off. A common problem for self-employed entrepreneurs. When you work on your own, it’s all up to you! So it’s tempting to do more and more and more hoping that will translate into more and more success. After nearly reaching burnout in just two years, I knew I needed to make a change. I knew I needed to find more balance.

to do list

In an effort to actually enjoy the perks of being self-employed (why I went down this path in the first place) I began creating “hours” in which I work and officially shutting down…and get this, not feeling bad about it!

I began to realize that there would always be more to do. As an entrepreneur and given that I create my own work load, nothing is ever truly “done” at the end of the day. And whether you’re a mother, employee or student I’m willing to bet you can relate.

So I developed a strategy for a to-do list that would help me balance both  my personal to-do’s and my work to-do’s in a way that would make me feel accomplished at the end of the day.

STEP ONE:

I start each week with two lists; one personal task related and one strictly business related. I write out anything and everything that comes to mind that I want to do that week (including workouts because if I leave them off the list, they’ll get left out of the week).

From there, I write out the week on my beloved Sugar Boo notepad, Monday through Friday, and create two columns at the top: personal and business.

STEP TWO:

Then I simply go through the list, think through my schedule each day and how much time I’ll have outside of the studio and divvy up the tasks so that there are approximately 3-5 things in each column that are to be accomplished each day (sometimes more, sometimes less, there are no strict rules).

to do list

That way, when I sit down at my laptop on Monday morning, I’m not overwhelmed and paralyzed by the giant, jumbled to do list that stares me in the face. I simply need to complete the small set of tasks in front of me and cross them off one at a time. Once accomplished, it’s up to me how I proceed. I can take the rest of the day off (and actually ENJOY the perks of self-employment) or work ahead if I’m feeling focused.

to do list

This process has really helped me balance my work life, my personal life and my perpspecitive. Not only that, it’s dramatically increased my productivity. I hope that it’s helpful to give you new ideas as you seek out ways to find more balance in your busy life.

Do you have a To-Do list strategy that works well for you? I’d love to hear it!

xo,

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9 Comments
  1. Erica 4 years ago

    That’s great advice. I actually struggle with some of the same problems as I also work from home. It’s so difficult to turn your thoughts “off.” Appreciate you sharing what’s worked for you! i’ll have to give it a try (and buy a cute new notebook). Thanks!

    • Author
      Robin 4 years ago

      Thanks for posting Erica! I agree, “turning off” is one of the hardest parts. But definitely get yourself a cute new notebook…it helps! 🙂

  2. Barb 3 years ago

    Thanks for the great ideas, Robin. I also struggle with turning my mind off at the end of the day and a jumbled to-do list. I’ll try this!

    • Profile photo of Robin Long
      Robin Long 3 years ago

      I hope it’s helpful Barb! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  3. lili 2 years ago

    This is great!

  4. […] I keep a running To-Do List throughout the week. I add to it continually and let the list get really long. I actually keep 2: 1 personal and 1 work-related. But each day I select 3-5 action items which are the things that I truly need to get done. If I can get through more than that, great. But most days there is really only time for the top 3 pressing items. You’ll be surprised how efficient you can be when you narrow your focus each day. Read more about my To-Do list strategy here. […]

  5. Erica S 2 years ago

    Thank you! I am going to try tis right now! I appreciate realistic strategies that I can use!

  6. Caroline 1 year ago

    This is great! Today is DAY 1 for me of reinventing my work-life after relocating for my sweetheart’s job. I would feel pretty lost without finding your website. Thanks, Robin!!

    • Profile photo of Robin Long
      Robin Long 1 year ago

      I love it Caroline! I’m so glad you’re finding this helpful!
      xo,
      Robin

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