Taming Your To-Do List {And a Give-Away!}



It's a joy for me to host my sweet and gifted friend, Glynnis Whitwer today. Glynnis is one of the most productive and organized people I know, and she's written a book that will help you choose wisely, be led by the Holy Spirit, and become more productive--without losing your mind. I love this book and am sure you will too. Be sure to follow the instructions below for your chance to win a signed copy! 
A few years ago, I had to face a hard truth about myself. Although my days were filled with good things, I wasn’t always choosing the best things.  The things that mattered most, often fell to the bottom of my to-do list. Then I’d transfer them to the next list, and sometimes they even fell off the list.
I thought the solution might be to work harder. But that only produced a stressed out, burned out mess of a woman, who was short-changing God, her family, friends and herself.
What God helped me discover was an internal tendency that was impacting my ability to get the right things done. When faced with two choices of what to do, I want to choose the easier of two tasks. For example, if my choice was between answering emails or working on a chapter of my book, I’d start with the emails thinking to check some things quickly off my list. Only once I started on emails, I was on a runaway train of “busywork,” and that creative project got pushed aside.
Thankfully God showed me my choices were creating a habit of procrastination that needed addressing. And working harder was never going to solve the root problem.
There were some complicated issues to uncover, but I also discovered small changes can produce the greatest amount of impact.
Procrastinators often repeat the same habits, hoping for a different result. Some times we need a small tweak in our approach to find success. Facing any personal struggle takes creativity, persistence and a willingness to try something new. But we can change.
Here are some of the small changes that made a big difference in how I managed my responsibilities.
Build renewal into your week
If we want to sustain energy to fulfill God’s calling on our lives and complete the work He has given us to do, we should build renewal into our lives on a weekly basis. 
God actually designed the need for rest and renewal into our minds and bodies, starting with the need for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Then He designed an ultradian rhythm into our bodies, which creates a lull in focus and energy every 60 to 90 minutes. Rather than pushing through with a dose of caffeine, give yourself a much needed 5-10 minute break. The other significant renewal God designed is the Sabbath. I have to trust God knows more than I do about what’s best for me, and honor this important day of the week with true rest.
Develop smart routines
Routines help us conserve mental and physical energy by removing decision-making. What time of day could use some order for you? Morning, after work, evening? Try writing out a schedule, and assigning times to tasks.  Most of us actually crave structure, we just don’t realize it until we experience it.
Reward yourself
All parents understand the power of rewards to get children to do the right thing. But I wonder if we think we’ve outgrown the need for rewards. Apparently God doesn’t think so, as there are over 80 verses in the Bible that refer to rewards.
I’m guilty of assigning a reward only when I’ve completed my ultimate goal. But rather than inspiring me to action, a reward that far away reinforces my perfectionist thinking that the only thing to be celebrated is the completed project.
What I should do is celebrate progress with small rewards along the way. So if you’ve put off sorting through mail for a few weeks, promise yourself a small treat when you’ve worked for five minutes. Actually, your first reward might be for starting! And that’s okay.
If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just start small. Try making one change and live with it for a while. Small positive changes have a powerful cumulative affect. And one day, you’ll wake up and realize you don’t dread the day so much. In fact, you actually can’t wait to get started on your best work.
FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY of “Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day”, please (1)  leave a comment sharing what small thing you intend to start, and what your reward might be AND (2) leave your email in your comment so I can reach you if you win!



Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, can you help you identify your priorities and reorder your schedule so you can live them out. You can connect with Glynnis on her blog at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com



18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will start by actually creating a to do list. I often try to keep track of things in my head which can be stressful (especially when i forget something). I will make a large list and a smaller list separated by day of the week (or even by weeks - i have a lot of recurring deadlines). Latoya.branch@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I would like to start by making myself a schedule for my evenings and by doing that I would actually be giving myself a reward since I never give myself any "me" time. Thank you for the wonderful give-away! snowman@midwestinfo.net

Debbie said...

Hi, thank you for sharing! Thinking on what you said, I realized I never give myself any rewards (guess I dont feel I ever deserve them!) and find it hard to even think of anything as a possibility...
Also, I struggle with the need for rest (specially the 7-9 hours of sleep which never seem to crystalize for me!) and the Lord has been convicting me lately that one (of the many) reasons is that I tend to stay up late at night doing absolutely unnecessary things (such as FB) or because of procrastinating on so many things during my day (yep I'm a confirmed procrasinator much as I hate to admit it and have great difficulty in changing this fact) or simply just dragging my feet to get to my much needed rest! and this is affecting my ability to get up early and spend my first moments with Him and to stay properly awake and focused all day both at work and at home!! (Obviously!). So... my intention is to set a deadline of 11 pm as the latest I will turn my lights off and make sure I get at least 7 hours of proper rest!
My reward... working on that one! (other than reaping the benefits of rest in all areas of my life).

Kandee Popham said...

I am going to pick 3 items from my list that are the most important to complete each day. If those get done then I will give myself the reward of allowing down time without reviewing what I did not complete. I'm thinking at the end of the week being able to look over all the completed items that have been crossed off will begin to change how I view my productivity. (by the way...the 3 a day tip is one I received from iBloom)

Sarah said...

Spreading my "to do list" out a little more. It seems like I always want to cram everything into one day when not all of it needs to get done in one day! 😊 That will definitely help me not feel so much pressure to accomplish all that needs to get done in one day! Thanks for this chance to win: qasinquiche@gmail.com

Sarah said...

Spreading my "to do list" out a little more. It seems like I always want to cram everything into one day when not all of it needs to get done in one day! 😊 That will definitely help me not feel so much pressure to accomplish all that needs to get done in one day! Thanks for this chance to win: qasinquiche@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I'm going to start taking a small break every 60-90 minutes; the renewed focus will probably enough of a reward in itself! tchase@wd.40.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. "Build renewal into your week" just struck me. Before I even read it I thought - "oh no, another thing to do!" But I am pleased for the reminder of rest. As busy and stressed as I make myself, I will try to get more rest by starting to bed at 10pm and taking breaks throughout my workday. My reward is a quick walk with the LORD in the park next to my office. Thank you, Julie, for your prayers. Thank you, Glynnis, for your service in sharing your practical advice. I appreciate you both! krsteadman@suddenlink.net

Anonymous said...

Prioritize my list. Set 1-3 on the list to focus on for one day.
wildflower48@live.com

Anonymous said...

I hope to start grading papers to help a teacher friend & this would reward her for All her help to me lately as well as reward me since I can't work anymore

Anonymous said...

I hope to start grading papers to help a teacher friend & this would reward her for All her help to me lately as well as reward me since I can't work anymore

LizzieB said...

I am a mother of a 4 year old and 6 month old with no free time! I had thought recently about making a schedule of things I need to do daily-but hesitated for fear I may not be able to stick with it. I'm encouraged now to try it out-so thank you! My hope is that the reward will be a little more margin in my day to sit down and read for a few minutes, bake a special treat, enjoy some time outdoors, etc. lizzieal2347@hotmail.com

Mindi said...

Hmm, I've been putting off all the "housework" because of working two jobs. Whenever I get time to do it, it's overwhelming because there is SO much to do! So, I'm going to start by making a list of one room at a time and work on one thing each day until the room is done. But each day that I do something on the list, I will reward myself with 5 dollars in a bank to spend however I want to and 5 to set aside for Christmas because I love to give. I have certain tasks that I know will require more than one day to do (like laundry and dishes) so I'll break the one big task up into smaller, more manageable pieces (like doing two loads of laundry as opposed to all of it at once) and reward myself when the task is finished. I'm not even going to look at the whole picture until it is finished...mostly anyway. Any woman knows that the housework is almost never done :). But pushing everything else aside but that one task will help me with gaining the reward. I am excited to see how this process will work for me by taking small steps as opposed to great big ones :). mindi.feuerstein@gmail.com

Andrea said...

I definitely need to have a rest day, that really hits me that I do so much and think that I just need to keep going to get it all done but its so true God knows what is best, I pray that as I learn to rest in Him I will find the reward of honoring the Sabbath and the way that God intended order to make my life better as well as the rest =) I'm so thankful for people like Glynnis that writes books like this to help those like me =P

dreacald@gmail.com

LaVell said...

I needed to read this today! Since my "baby" recently started kindergarten, I made a new daily schedule just last week. I work from home and travel frequently, my home office desperately needs reorganized, and I'm the only one who can do it. I like the idea of scheduling some time each day - perhaps 30 minutes before lunch then reward myself by reading something I enjoy over lunch? :) lavellwinsor@gmail.com

Terri Albrecht said...

I will make my to do list at night before I go to bed and keep it at 6 items or less, that way I wont feel so overwhelmed which leads to paralyzed action steps the next day.
tralbrecht@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I always try to do too many things. The best thing I've started to do is give myself permission to let some things slide. Then I feel free to accomplish the important work, without feeling so disappointed that everything isn't done. When I do finish the important work - I sit down with a hot cup of tea and read for 30 minutes. bck4045@hotmail.com

Tiffany G. said...

As a homeschooI mother of four.( 10,9,6,4)... I Plan To Start Using A Daily Docket And Filling It Out The Night Before Or Immediately Following My Morning Devotion . Hmmm, my reward? A little extra afternoon rest time. Yep. Cozied-up with a book .
Plumdelasucrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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