If you’ve been following my prioritization strategies, Why Moms Struggle to Prioritize and 5 Simple Steps to Prioritize to Win the Day, and have tried them, you probably gained awareness and are doing a lot better at prioritizing. If not, don’t worry. Stick with the 5 steps to help you prioritize. It will get easier over time with consistency.
Let’s say you discovered your why and have used my 5-step method and it was going well. So far, it’s been going great, but now it appears you’re falling back into bad habits.
It takes several days before habits stick and then you have to maintain those habits. If you’re noticing that your focus is beginning to drop because your habits are not in check, keep reading.
I’ll share with you habits that will support your ability to focus and prioritize so you can get stuff done without stress.
Here are 13 effective habits to help you prioritize your to-do list.
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1. Prevent Distractions
Distractions are tough and there are many in our daily lives. Kids, emails, notifications, too-long to-do list you keep staring at, the temptation to multitask everything, the mess in the house, the requests, etc. There are so many distractions.
A mom’s life is so packed and fast-paced, it can be difficult to step back and see distractions as distractions.
If you struggle with distractions, I have a good list of strategies to minimize them – How to Focus When You’re Constantly Distracted.
If you are distracted by your phone and/or computer a lot, too much for your comfort, I highly recommend you use a focus tool like the Freedom App.
The Freedom App is a useful tool to help you fight distractions allowing you to focus and be productive.
Need to block websites and apps so that you can stay on task?
Need a better handle on your habits?
If you work from home or simply want to keep digital distractions at bay, the Freedom app will help you.
Get set up for free here.
2. Use Effective Productivity Tools
Not all productivity tools like apps will work for you but fortunately, today’s productivity apps are getting better and simpler.
When you’re a busy and overwhelmed mom, you don’t have time to research productivity tools or apps. There are so many available and can add to the overwhelm.
I use Todoist and as a mom that can struggle to focus at times and is frequently short on sleep, it’s been an amazing tool to keep me on track with life.
What’s important is that you choose a tool that you can use daily and pairs well in your life. I do recommend you consider Todoist.
You can learn more about how Todoist works here.
3. Limit Your Daily Tasks
Limiting your daily tasks to a maximum of five can prevent overwhelm. Aim for less than five if you’re willing.
Prioritize tasks based on the effort and energy required. You can choose to tackle lesser-effort tasks first or go for higher-effort tasks. Be mindful of your energy levels and schedule tasks accordingly.
4. Apply the 2 Minute and 5 Second Rules
Start your day tackling tasks on your list early if you can. Not every mom can wake up before the kids but if you can, I recommend it. The 2-minute rule is a simple and effective rule anyone can use, especially moms. How it works is that if a task can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately.
The ‘5 second rule’ is about acting on tasks within five seconds of considering them to prevent procrastination. It’s simple and practical.
You don’t have to meditate or go into any deep visualization. It’s about taking immediate action. Sometimes we need to just do it. You might be surprised at how effective it is. You won’t know unless you try.
To learn more about this rule check out my post – Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule – Does it work?
5. Prioritize with the Matrix Method
Prioritizing can be a challenge when you feel everything is a priority. Use the Eisenhower Matrix (priority matrix) every day to organize your tasks based on their urgency and importance.
The priority matrix is a good place to start along with my simple 5 steps to prioritization. You can get the steps here.
6. Align Tasks with Your Goals
It’s always best to align tasks with your values, principles, and goals. Why? By focusing only on the important (and urgent) tasks that align with your goals, you will simply achieve them faster. Think of it like a compass, you know the direction you need to go to get where you want to go. Straight path, no detours.
Think of how much time and energy you will save if you focus only on the tasks that matter to you.
7. Break Big Tasks into Smaller Ones
Big tasks can be scary and can make you want to defer it. This will lead to procrastination. You don’t have to do this! Break them down into smaller more manageable tasks. You still make progress, but you reduce the anxiety of trying to complete a big task.
Think of it this way, you have a bucket list that includes climbing a mountain. Do you start out climbing the biggest mountain? Probably not.
If you’re an amateur, you will need to start small and slowly work your way up. This applies to anyone who wants to achieve a big task or goal they haven’t accomplished yet.
When you accomplish each small task, you will give your motivation a boost and you will build momentum. Embrace small tasks and make big progress. It works!
8. Batch Similar Tasks
Many moms use task batching with great success. Pick a chunk of time to group similar tasks together. It might seem like it will take more time, but it actually increases focus therefore you will be more efficient.
Let’s assume you approach your tasks by multitasking. You switch from laundry, emails, phone calls, and kids. You’re still not done with all your tasks yet, but you continue with task switching because you think you can get a lot done this way.
This is really a dance with chaos. Focus is out the window and you’re burning up precious energy by the second. You wonder why you’re so frazzled, right? Continuing this way loses you time and energy that you need to be productive.
Task batching will save you time and brainpower as well as help you focus better.
Don’t overthink it! Head to your calendar and start batching your tasks!
9. Delegate or Outsource
For all the tasks of lesser importance, delegate or outsources them if you can. This frees up your time to focus on your top priorities.
Never feel guilty for delegating or outsourcing. Never forget your values and goals too. They matter more than wasting your time trying to do everything and burning yourself out in the process.
It’s not worth it.
There are many ways to do this. First start with your family, you are a team, work together! Have a family meeting to discuss who can help with tasks that you want to delegate.
Take advantage of services. If grocery shopping is a challenge for you, use their delivery option. If cleaning your home is the last thing you want to spend your time and energy on, look for a cleaning service.
Struggle to get healthy meals on the table? Go for meal kits. Need time to focus without kids around, get a babysitter, or ask a trusted family member or friend for help.
The goal is to delegate and outsource wisely. If you don’t have the budget, start saving so that you can outsource at least one task. The time you save for even one task will be significant. Embrace it!
10. Never Overcommit
Avoid biting off more than you can chew. Overcommitment can lead to burnout and will reduce your productivity significantly.
If you often wondered why you feel so scattered, this could be one reason. Overcommitting is the challenge of saying “no”.
There could be a few reasons why it’s hard for you to say no, one could be that you worry about disappointing others, the other could be that you worry about losing out on an opportunity, or it could just be the pressure to do more because you feel it’s the right thing to do.
Instead of thinking that not committing to things that don’t matter is taboo, see it as a health benefit.
Think of the reduced stress, improved focus, and energy you will have for your family. Remember, it’s not about doing it all, it’s about doing what matters. Write this on a piece of paper and stick it to your computer, your fridge, or mirror. Remind yourself daily.
11. When All Else Fails - Do One Thing
When things get overwhelming, just focus on one task. Completing one task can give you a sense of accomplishment and can help to kick-start your confidence and boost your productivity.
When you finish even one task, you see your potential, you know that you are capable of focusing, and you get excited to do the next worthwhile task.
Never feel that one task is insignificant or something to be ashamed of. When you’re overwhelmed, start small and gradually build up.
Never stay stuck in the vicious cycle of doing all the things and burning out. You know there’s no gain to this. Start with the one task to help you regain your focus and confidence.
12. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments
Tracking your progress and accomplishments can be a great motivator. It can also give you some insight into where you are spending your time which can help you make better decisions later.
Keep a simple tracker, like a daily or weekly progress tracker using a standard planner or notebook.
It might seem unnecessary to keep track of your progress, but you will notice a difference when you look back at everything you accomplished over the week or month. I’m betting it will be more than you expect.
Seeing the progress is better than taking a guess. Track that progress!
13. Celebrate your wins
Now that you’re tracking your progress, don’t forget to celebrate your wins.
One caveat to this is how you celebrate matters. You want to make sure that when you celebrate it doesn’t cause you to derail all your efforts.
For example, if focusing during the day is challenging for you, it might not be a good idea to treat yourself to a break that involves too much screen time.
You still need to be mindful of your time and energy. Celebrate your progress by freeing up more of your time by getting rid of unimportant tasks and choosing your activities wisely.
Be intentional in how you honor your accomplishments so that they cultivate a healthy sense of self-worth.
Use any of these habits in your daily routine to help you prioritize your tasks more effectively, be more productive and stress-free. Finally, the goal isn’t to get everything done; it’s to get the important things done. Prioritize wisely with these smart habits!