Let’s face it — it’s both the most wonderful time of the year and the busiest. There never seems to be a lack of things to do, and I never seem to stop adding to my to-do list and needle list.
Whether it’s personal, life, home, work, or health things, we’re often pulled in a million different directions and usually end up with a bit too much on our plates this time of year – especially if we find it hard to set boundaries.
Enter the sticky note method.
What is the Sticky Note Method
The sticky note method is basically a new way to set boundaries and keep them. Every morning, you fill one sticky note with all the tasks you have to do. If they don’t fit on the note, you can’t do them.
It’s not only a great way to prioritize your workflow and to-do lists, but it’s also a fantastic visualization technique. If you can imagine the sticky note as your day and your brain, you don’t want it to be all messy and full, but neat and organized.
When you’re writing all your tasks down, remember to write all of them. I’ll often run into this problem because I’ll begin my sticky note list too late in the day, when I’ve already done a little too much and now I just have a few tasks. Write down everything you’ve already done, too, because the sticky note ought to encompass your entire day. You can wait to make the list until later in the day, like me, or you can make one at the beginning of the day and stick to it.
Why We Need to Cut Down Our To-Do Lists
@upcycledadulting Maybe you’re not sure how to take things off of your to-do list yet (we’ll talk about that soon) but you CAN stop adding things. #overstressing #toomuchtodo #longtodolist #recoveringpeoplepleaser #amomsjobisneverdone #overstressed #destressing #stressedoutmom #stressedoutteacher #stressedout #stressmanagement❤️ #stressreduction #stressmanagment #stressmanagementtips #burnoutprevention #stressfreelife #stressfree #stressfreeliving #stressfreelifestyle #overcomeoverwhelm #stressrelief #destress #dolesslivemore ♬ original sound – Cassie Feld
The premise of the sticky note method makes sense. There are a number of reasons to-do lists don’t work for people, whether that’s because they’re overwhelming, they’re not organized by priority, they’re constantly being added to, or there’s no real differentiation between work/life/personal tasks on them.
When you only have the space of one sticky note to write on, you get more serious about your goals and the tasks that you have to do rather than the tasks that you could do. You are no longer adding things to your list and your day that will just take up your energy for no real reason.
Things to Keep in Mind
I would suggest making your sticky note list at the beginning of the day so you can project and prepare for what you think the day will hold.
Begin the list with the top priority things. These are the scariest tasks or the tasks that are due by the end of that day. While many of your bullet points will be work-related, add in the exercises you’ll do, the grocery runs, and anything else that you know has to be finished by the end of the day. The goal of these tiny lists is also to see how much you do in a day.
After you’ve added the important things to the list, add one to three small and not important things if you have the room. This is the area where you can work ahead a little or just cross some stuff off your mental lists.
After everything has been added, put in time estimates for how long each task will take. This will also help you further prioritize what needs to be finished first and what can wait.
Once you’ve done all of this, you should be good to go!
If there was ever a week I needed to prioritize my to-do list and think of things to take off of it, this was that week. This week worked out perfectly for this challenge because I was moving and working every single day. Because of the emphasis on prioritization, I was able to break down each day’s tasks so that one day’s work didn’t crush me, but I also got my life together and my tasks finished every day.
Waking up every morning and thinking through my priorities honestly helped me more than anything. While I went through a few sticky note drafts at the beginning, I usually had a pretty firm grasp on a much more manageable workload by about midday and could tear through all of my to-dos without worrying about forgetting something important.
There were days when I went a bit ‘off script’ and added a few things to my to-do list that didn’t necessarily needed to be there, but that was mostly because I was trying to get all of my tasks finished by the beginning of the week, so I could get everything together before I moved.
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I loved working with a sticky note to keep track of my to-do list. It truly helped me prioritize tasks every day, and I usually finished three-quarters of my to-do list before noon because I was able to focus on certain tasks much better than if I wasn’t going off of an organized and prioritized list.
I can see the downfall of using this list because there were days when I had far more to do than could fit on the list, but those were the days when I was the most gracious with myself and when I cut the most ‘fluff’ off of my sticky note list.
I think I will continue this method for the most part. It was an amazing lesson for me because I realized just how many things I add to my mental list every day, no matter how slammed I am. Once I finished all of the tasks on my list for the day, I would go on a walk, watch a TV show, or just turn it all off and be done for the evening. While relearning boundaries is often hard, doing little challenges like the sticky note method really help.
If you have a hard time prioritizing your work or if you put a bit too much on your plate, try the sticky note method and see if it allows you to give yourself a break.
Have you ever tried the sticky note method? Are you going to now? Comment below!
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