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How I Do To-Do

This is yescessary – a mostly monthly post where I share how I prioritize a very full family life and use my exec producer brain to help things run more smoothly at home. I hope you’re squeezing every sip out of summer (still three more weeks!) and are gearing up for a sweet September. I’ve had a delicious couple of months - days at the lake, outdoor fests, cure-all pedicures, max chillax weekends. Last week was my slather-on-the-sunscreen birthday sojourn. L-E-O. You guessed it, right? I’ve been thinking a lot about this newsletter and how it fuels me. Ooo doggie does it ever. It’s my labour of love, but I don’t want it to be labourious. The issue of sustainability also pertains to creativity, so…I’m tucking in my word count peeps. I want to this read to be a joy drop in your day AND I want to crank ‘em out faster. More links, less tra la la. With me? Here we GO!

  • 1 IDEA – How I DO To-Do

  • 2 YESCESSARIES – Tips From My Lifestyle Files

  • My YES-ESSENTIALS – All My Yaaahses Now

1 IDEA – How I DO To-Do Last post, I pulled back the curtain on my to-do list - the one I was willing to show! Due to a mailing glitch, it may have ended up in your junk. Sigh. I’m proud of my Head, Heart, Body Metric, my new measure of what constitutes a “good day.” I’ve been entering (and exiting) every day differently and with greater intention. If you have a few, please give a read here. This is a follow up to my last post! I’m not sure what state your to-do list is in. I’m talking about the appointment wrangling, finance managing, resource gathering, school prep, home responsibilities to-dos. If it tends to be on the long side, especially as we head into fall, then my algorithm is working. This post is for YOU. Truth: I struggle with managing work to-dos and home to-dos every day. There are days that evapourate and I have no idea where my intentions go, BUT – I have been working on it. I’ve been keeping track and experimenting with techniques and I want to share. I use three strategies when I’m list-letting:

1. I See

2. I Schedule

3. I Reduce

I SEE I like to start at the start. It’s a funny saying, but I used to jump ahead and miss standing in the starting blocks. I KEEP A LIST: To me, the initial step in wrangling tasks is keeping a list in the first place. Tasks used to fall off for us because we relied on this archaic thing called memory. Silly us. Now we build a house of awareness regarding tasks. Got to see it to slay it. I’m good with lists, so I own our household’s. I would fizzle without the Notes function on my phone. When I tick, and a box migrates to the bottom – pure elation. Sometimes cackles. Love me a ticked box. That said, I feel equal parts comfort and anxiety with the list. It’s a support garment for our brains, but also freaks me out when I notice that we’re mostly adding and not ticking off. This happens a lot. Next, I remember to ADD. Obvs, but important. No more phantom lists. I’ve trained myself to pull out my phone immediately and type a new task when I think of it. I LOOK AT THE LIST OFTEN: If not every day, every other day. Hello, choice architecture. I look at that dang (pardon, blessed) list frequently with the intention of checking off one of the boxes or having Step or one of the kids check it off. The one rule I have with myself is to NOT look at the list first thing in the morning. Mornings are hard enough! I SCHEDULE If you’re not familiar with Eisenhower's or Stephen Covey’s Urgent/Important Matrix, I encourage you to check them out. They both stress the need to schedule tasks, or they migrate into the red hot, stress zone of urgency.

I have some issues with the simplicity of only four quadrants for the matrixes, especially as a working mother, and have made my own modifications (sometimes I delegate things that are important!). I’m waaaaayyy on board with scheduling time to get ‘er done. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: I USE PERSONAL POMODOROS: My sis introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique (not the sauce, the writing technique). I find it incredibly useful, so I’ve invented the “Personal Pomodoro” - twenty or so minutes carved into to my workday once or twice a week to look at the list and knock something off. When I’m in the office, I’m truly in the zone. I mono task. I focus. But I remind myself the reason our to-do list is sizeable is because I’m mostly in work zone. Some people work better with compartmentalizing - keeping home in home hours and work in work hours. I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work for me (or production). So, I drop and give myself twenty (minutes) once or twice a week to book appts, or email a French tutor, or renew my library card, etc. You know, exciting international spy stuff. I schedule a PP just as I do an appointment, which this IS. The challenge is switching gears. Not gonna lie, it ain’t easy, but an essential producer skill is prioritizing. I know when I can squeeze in a PP. AG ASIDE – I just re-read that paragraph. Admittedly, the acronym PP is not ideal. Ha! I swear I’m older than five… I target my lighter meeting days. No way I’m shoehorning in twenty on a day with back-to-backs. Not giving up bio breaks for anything. Tee hee. I USE SOFT OFFS: Have you heard of these? Of course not! This is me making up terms (on my terms) again. Soft offs are days where I book an appointment or two and work mobile-y. Ok, not a word. Days where I work remotely, but I’m on the move. I don’t believe there is enough out there on HOW people work flexibly (exactly how?), so I’m sharing one thing I do. Soft off days are my bridge days; where I blend work and life with the goal of slam-dunking personal to-dos (maybe two), while I’m still (holla at me) avail by email or text. We've proven we can work remotely thanks to the beepy little devices attached to us. When I take a Hard out (off off), I revel in no lists, no tasks, no work, no emails. When I’m firm with the N/AG boundary, everyone else is, too. I REDUCE Striking items off the list also happens when I pass the buck to someone else to carry (your turn!) or I decide not to do it. A.k.a. hard pass. I DELEGATE: Passing on tasks has gotten easier as our kids mature. It's taken me a bit to realize,“What a second, YOU can do this!” YOU with the endless amount of time and insatiable capacity for sugar. Yes, YOU. It’s been a fantastic life transition to rely on the kids to help more. They don’t exactly like it, but hey, responsibility is sometimes a drag. Get on board. For me, the key is to delegate the outcome, not the task, otherwise I’m micromanaging. I try my darndest to let the fam own “how” they get it done (there may be some instruction needed) and I try to focus on the end game – another box checked. See ya! I LET THINGS GO: I’m getting better at dropping it like it’s hot. Ditching a task is not a short coming. It’s part of the process of prioritizing. I put my energy where I need it. Real life example: I was determined to fit in an extra to swim once a week with my daughter. After years of lessons (cha ching), she still wasn’t swimming. With her hockey schedule + piano + swimming and my schedule (++), there was no window. I let it go. Not too long after, she swam ten lengths in class. Bingo bango, just like that. Couldn’t do one length and then one day it clicked. Ten! Ah meh girl. Sometimes when you let it go, it finds a way to resolve itself. The one thing we need to work on is rewarding ourselves after we move a task from undone to done. The cackles have been great, but a piece of dark chocolate might also hit the spot. I hope seeing how someone else tackles tasks has been helpful! MORE on To-dos? I got you.

2 YECESSARIES – Tips From My Lifestyle Files I’ve been keeping track of what works for me and my family over the years so I can repeat it. Why start from scratch when we’ve already done it well? And it’s back to school! Sharing is caring. Here’s a couple for this time o’year. WE HAVE A FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PARADE I didn’t start this, but our street has a first day of school tradition – we walk to school together on the first day. A bunch of us meet at a neighbour’s, and the kids gather on the lawn for a group pic. Then kids, parents, dogs walk en masse to school. We gab about our summers. Families hold hands. We laugh. Parent-arazzi the whole way! So fun. WE DO LUNCH CUSTODY We have only one lunch to make a day (so lucky), but it’s still a logistical nightmare. Tiny kitchen + hectic mornings. We came up with a system near the end of last school year and we’re bringing it back – lunch custody. One parent owns making the lunch for the WHOLE week - then we switch. It’s less chaotic than us bumping shoulders while squishing yums into containers. When it’s my week, I get right into it – beef stew, souvlaki sandwich with tzatziki. Step’s sweet and sour meatballs with rice, total winner. Healthy competition ensues. The kid likes da meats.

MY YES-ESSENTIALS – All My Yaaahses Right Now

I ❤️ VANILLA CAKE: This is my go-to cupcake recipe that worked just as well for my birthday cake. I would bathe in buttercream. I would. FOR THE WORD NERDS: When Scrabble is too big of a time commitment, we pull out this game. So fun, easy to pack, and you can play this puppy on any flat surface. HAIR PLAY: Quick hit of a colour with no commitment? IN. TWEEN TIME: Loved this article on raising superpowered tweens. Also, good reminders for us adults. Bounce baby! (Washington Post) CROWD-PLEASER: I make paella every August. It’s the most glorious meal. My son has a paella dance. It's an event. I customize this recipe. TOTAL TEA: Have you read about moringa? Oh, my stars. I had no idea it packed so many nutrients and is a fantastic calmer. I drink the tea. CUTE CASE: My cell reps Montreal! INTO IT: Ever since the pandemic took away my commute past that bagel place, I’ve been intuitive eating. I like these definitions of intuitive and mindful eating. GLOW GETTER: Slugging was all the rage a few months ago, but I've been doing it for years. And now that the weather is changing, I up my face routine and use this all-natural ointment. Trust an East Coast company to know wassup with moisturizing! CREAM DREAM: Came across this number at a festival this summer. Smells like rum punch and Twizzlers, which sounds like a really good idea now that I mention it.

Dropping over six hundred keystrokes is like getting my best time in a race. Giving myself a little shoulder dust here. Did. It! Thanks so much to those who have subscribed. I hope you’re enjoying it so far. Feel free to send me any thoughts on topics, feedback, reccos. Have a glorious long weekend, y’all. Wishing you a pleasant and seamless transition back to routine. You got this! Back soonsies!


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