To Do-ne

Dear Friends,

I wrote this guest blog for, a great web resource for busy moms everywhere. Special thanks to those wonderful friends for having me. In case you missed it there, here are some easy ways you can make your to do list more effective.  Spring is upon us, so head into the finest season with an eye on your action plan. If you check everything off that pesky list – you get to go outside and frolic! No better motivator in the world!




Let me guess, you get about 5 uninterrupted minutes each day to accomplish tasks on your to do list. When those 5 empty minutes are upon you, do you spend 4 of those precious moments figuring out where to start? Do you stand, staring at the empty space in front of you, mentally cataloguing all of the things you have to do, only to be shocked and dismayed when all of a sudden, the moment has passed and you haven’t managed to do…anything?!

It’s ok, but no more of that please. Today, you will learn two simple tricks you can use to start maximizing every second you have free of Kids, Husband, Employees and Appointments. Promise.

It starts and ends with how you are working with your to do list. We all have one, but the way you use it makes all the difference in the world. An incomplete, inactive, non-specific to do list is actually just a piece of paper. True story. You might as well use it to clean up whatever your child just spilled…I’ll wait.

Trash the old to do list, and start over like this:

1. Your to do list must be a mental dump of everything in your brain.

Take a blank sheet of paper and put e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g cluttering up your brain onto that page. This not only ensures you won’t forget stuff, but also feels like losing ten pounds since you are no longer using your already very crowded brain to store info that can, and should, be accounted for elsewhere. Write it down, delete from brain. Think of your brain like a computer hard drive. The more data you store on your hard drive, the slower your machine is. Free up some space, and voila, your computer is quick and responsive once again – and so will you be!

2. Make sure everything you put on that list is actionable, specific, and includes all related details.

So, instead of writing this entry on your list, Get back to Friend-I-Never-See-Ever about dinner, write instead, Email Friend-I-Never-See-Ever confirming dinner on Tuesday at 8pm. This way, in minute 1 of 5 you have free, you don’t have to spend time remembering when that dinner was, if you decided you could go, when you are confirming for, blah, blah, blah. Trying to act on a to do list entry like Get back to Friend-I-Never-See-Ever about dinner, forces me to have thoughts I’ve already had, and rehash things I’ve already spent time dealing with in my brain. If my to do list instead instructs me to Email Friend-I-Never-See-Ever confirming dinner on Tuesday at 8, my brain says “Ok, can do,” and the to do list item literally gets copied and pasted into an email that looks like this:

Hey Friend-I-Never-See-Ever,

 Writing to confirm dinner on Tuesday at 8pm. See you then!


To Do-ne! You win! Check off dance commence!

The moral of the story is, you can make every minute count and make progress on your to do list if you give yourself a fighting chance. Prep your list properly. Look at the list. Follow your own instructions. Rinse and repeat.

Post authored by Brooke Stone. 

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