Overwhelmed and Overscheduled by Your To-Do Lists? Here’s 3 Ways to Get Control!
What does your To-Do List look like? I have to say that mine has been overwhelming to the point of being unrealistic. It is not easy being human; we all have “stuff” to do, lots of stuff! If your lists are anything like mine… let’s talk.
I thought I was an organized planner. For thirty-eight years I made to-do lists and used the same style of weekly day planner to schedule everything (until I started using my iPhone). These charts made me feel as though I had some control over my schedule, but I still needed to make my lists! Oh, those never-ending to-do lists!
When my daughter, Jackie, was in high school one of her friends was visiting and noticed me setting up my date book for the year. She saw me writing in the calendar start decorating for Christmas along with the area of our home I wanted to decorate. She smiled and said, “You really wrote ‘decorate for Christmas’ in your date book and where you want to decorate?”
I remember laughing a little and explaining how important it was for me to plan. It’s a busy time of the year, and it can become very overwhelming if I don’t plan. I explained to her how over the years I had learned that it took DAYS to decorate our home the way that we loved it and if I didn’t schedule it, I may not get everything done.
Part of feeling overwhelmed comes from those long to-do lists and just how often I say “yes” to taking on another responsibility. It’s not because I don’t know how to say “no” or how to kindly decline; the truth is, I say “yes” because I want to do it! I really think I can manage it all. THERE lies my problem!
I have to confess; time management has always been a struggle for me. So often I’ve underestimated how much of my time would be required. My guess is that some of you are struggling just like me.
If you’re feeling as if there are not enough hours in your day to do it all and you’re unable to get control of your schedule, you’re right… there are not enough hours in your day!
We all get the same twenty-four hours, and we are the ones to decide how we will use those hours. So, let’s work on finding the best way to do just that.
“Plans are nothing… Planning is everything” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
This makes perfect sense, yet somehow, I was not really planning. I was filling my calendar and making to-do lists. I was not in control.
I would like to share with you how I am trying to get back control of my never-ending lists, so I can gain some sense of accomplishment in my schedule.
No, I’m not buying another fancy planner, app, or notebook. I’m using the KISS principle. You know… “Keep it simple sweetie!” (Although, “sweetie” is not the word usually used). I am also trying to be more kind to myself.
Three Strategies I Use to Gain a Sense of Control and Accomplishment Over My Schedule
1. Write down what you want to accomplish and prioritize your list.
I use separate notebooks for each area of my life, both personal and professional; this helps me stay focused and organized. I look over these lists and decide what I can delegate or pay someone else to do. Then I prioritize the things that are left. I will separate the lists into daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and my not-so-urgent someday list.
2. Know your deadlines.
I put all my commitments and deadlines into my iPhone calendar. This is my master calendar. To help me stay organized I have set up different colors for all areas of my life. I’ll give you some examples that may help you realize things that take up your precious time. Work is green = $$, AADOM is blue and my home, family, doctor appointments, HOA, and vacations all have their own colors. I use yellow for self-care. Don’t forget self-care! Using different colors for all areas of my life has helped me to see the whole picture. I can see what might be missing in my life too. The 2020 calendar year really showed me that. It also allows me to look at one area at a time. Seeing the whole picture has helped me to manage everything better. It allows me to choose carefully and reminds me to say “no” and not to overschedule or commit to something for which I really don’t have time.
3. Estimate the time needed to complete your projects.
I break down my projects into steps and decide if it needs daily, weekly or monthly attention and then post it in my calendar. Next, I break it down into actual blocks of time. This allows me to not schedule anything else and it ensures that I have the time I need to meet the deadlines. If a project is new to me, I do allow extra time, honestly, this is still my struggle. I also try to remember not to beat myself up too much if it takes me longer.
I like to think about it the same way we plan our office schedule. Our patients are scheduled for specific times because the treatment planning was done. Crowns are not scheduled the same as a one-surface composite. Every procedure is scheduled specifically. Our training, meetings, celebrations, and non-patient appointments are scheduled for specific durations. Every provider, meeting, and training session is a different color. You get the picture.
When I practice scheduling using “time blocks” and I don’t depend only on making “to-do lists” my schedule becomes less of a struggle and more realistic. It allows me to see the time I may have available for a future project or just some time to relax and indulge in some much-needed self-care!
I am still a work-in-progress. Far from perfect, so I remind myself to stay flexible and kind to myself. If you are struggling to find a way to get control of your schedule and your never-ending to-do lists, my hope is that some of what I have shared will inspire and help you to get some sense of accomplishment in your busy schedule too!
About the Author
Rosanne Kassab-Perno, MAADOM has spent the last three decades helping her husband Joe build his practice, Voorhees Family Dentistry.
Rosanne is a proud lifetime member of AADOM and earned her Fellowship (FAADOM) in 2019. Most recently at AADOM’s 2021 conference, Rosanne was inducted as a Master, (MAADOM), and she is currently working towards earning her Diplomate (DAADOM) designation. Rosanne also serves as Vice-President of the Southern NJ AADOM Chapter.
When she is not managing the practice, Rosanne enjoys spending time with her three daughters and their families, particularly her four grandchildren.