The Secret to Getting Everything Done

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt completely satisfied when I crossed the last item off of a to-do list. This is because I have another list—whether written down or in my mind—looming.

I’ve discovered the secret to completing everything on my to-do list. It just might revolutionize the way you think about getting things done.

This is the nature of life. If we’re going to eat, then we have to menu plan, grocery shop, and cook. If we’re going to wear clean clothes, then we have to do the laundry. If we’re going to have safe and healthy homes, then we have to clean and complete maintenance work. There’s nothing wrong with having numerous tasks we need to complete. This is life.

However, many of us feel weighed down by these tasks. We often struggle to complete them because our children absorb every minute of our time and every ounce of our energy. Additionally, we struggle to find ways to balance them with things like spending time with friends, going on family vacations, and taking part in church activities.

Earlier this year, I read a statement that revolutionized the way I think about being busy. This statement was in a surprising place—The Art of Neighboring (affiliate link), a book about getting to know your neighbors by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. The authors say the following when addressing the “time barrier” to getting to know your neighbors:

“The truth is that things will only settle down when you die or when you get intentional about adjusting your schedule. We tell ourselves things like, If I can just get through next Wednesday, then everything’s going to be fine. But Wednesday comes, and things aren’t fine. There’s a new pressing deadline after that. And another after that.”

Nestled in this statement is the secret to getting everything done. Do you see it? Things will only settle down when we die or when we change our schedules. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have plans to die anytime soon, so this leaves the latter option: Changing my schedule.

I’ve spent years thinking that things will settle down soon. They’ll settle down as soon as the family members visiting us return to their home. They’ll settle down as soon as my toddler becomes potty trained. They’ll settle down as soon as my infant starts sleeping through the night. They’ll settle down as soon as we get back from our trip and return to our normal routine. Things never do settle down, though. I think the authors are on to something!

If we want things to settle down—if we want to be able to complete everything on our to-do lists—then we have to change our schedules. For a few of us, this may mean rearranging when we do things or getting more organized. However, for most of us, this means doing fewer things.

So, the secret to getting everything done is that simple. We only have 24 hours in each day. If we’re going to get everything done, then we need to prioritize our tasks so we’re only doing 24 hours’ worth of stuff. If certain tasks or activities don’t make the cut, then we must let them go.

I’ve discovered the secret to completing everything on my to-do list. It just might revolutionize the way you think about getting things done.

This is a simple concept, but it’s not always simple to implement. In a couple of weeks we’ll look at some different ways to prioritize our tasks so we’re focusing on the most important things and letting go of the rest.

Do you struggle to complete everything on your to-do list? What keeps you from completing everything? Is part of the problem that you’re trying to complete more than 24 hours’ worth of work in one day?

Shared at the following:

Coffee and Conversation, The Art of Homemaking, Monday’s Musings, Tuesday Talk, and Home and Garden Linky.

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Comments

  1. I loved this post. It’s summer and school is out. I substitute teach and watch 3 new grand babies. I’ve got a mini to-do list each day now because I can’t get it all done even now with school out, but I’ve gotten a whole lot of little things done this week.

    Wise words and I enjoyed reading these truths.

    • Shannon says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles to get it all done, Debbie! A mini to-do list each day sounds helpful.

  2. Shannon, I loved this post and the quotes you shared. I really struggle in this area! I’m always trying to get more done than I can do in 24 hours and then I just end up procrastinating because I get discouraged. Too much all or nothing thinking gets me every time! Thank you for the encouragement!

    • It becomes a vicious cycle, doesn’t it, Leslie? Hopefully we can both grow from remembering this truth!

  3. You are so right about things never slowing down. I’m 61 and retired, and my kids live in other states, so I really should have loads of time. And yet, I find myself never able to complete my “to-do” list. I found you over at Monday’s Musings today and look forward to hearing more about this subject.
    Patti

    • It sounds like you have seen the truth of this quote in your own life, Patti. We really do have to change our approach.

  4. A few years ago, I started buying smaller day planners. My theory is that if I have smaller squares with fewer lines, I can only do what the square will hold. After that, I either have to reprioritize — or bump things to another day. I’m so thankful for the change this has made.

  5. Yes, yes, YES!!! Establishing and following our priorities is the only way to feel satisfied with what we accomplish! So important. Blessings!

  6. Love the points you made in this post. I am overly obsessive about getting the most out of my day and continually doing something. Working hard on learning to slow down and being ok with just sitting for a bit and enjoying life.

  7. I’ve always loved making a list and checking things off but yes, you’re never really done.

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