I’m gonna make a non-controversial statement here: We all have way too much to do.
Being “on top of it” (whatever “it” is) is a reckless myth. No one is ever “on top of it,” and you can never be “on top of it.” What you can do is accept your human limitations and find little ways to streamline your tasks so that you can feel like you’re keeping your head above water.
#1: Embrace the 15-minute clean.
Who has time to scrub the baseboards or wash your windows every single day? No one, that’s who. Rather than letting it all pile up until you physically can’t ignore it anymore (guilty), dedicate 15 measly minutes each day. Start by just picking up whatever messes you can. If you stay consistent, those messes will get easier to manage, and you can use the remaining time on the clock for other tasks like wiping counters or vacuuming (I love the app Tody for this).
#2: Eat the same thing for as long (and as much) as you can.
Systems essentially eliminate decisions. And what decision is more emotionally daunting than figuring out what you want to have for lunch? Take this pressure off your plate (pun intended) by prepping and planning repeatable meals. It sounds boring, I know, but as long as it’s a meal you enjoy, you’ll be surprised at how much time and emotional energy you save by not having to make this decision every day. And you can always switch out your meals when you get sick of ’em.
#3: Set up email dates.
Stop checking your email throughout the day. It’s too much. Pick one—two at the most—time during your day to sit down and go through your inbox. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.
#4: Automate your bills.
If you’re not doing this already, start. With deadlines, climate change, and celebrity drama, we don’t have enough brain capacity to remember a series of dates on which we need to pay a bill. Do yourself a favor and put that noise on autopilot.
#5: Automate your to-do list.
In a society where everything feels pressing and urgent, figuring out which task to do next can be paralyzing. This is why I love to-do list tools that prioritize your assignments based on deadlines and the time you have to work on any given day. I personally use Motion, but Reclaim is another good one.
#6: Be a satisficer (not a maximizer).
In the book “The Paradox of Choice,” American psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that the more options we have, the less satisfied we are with any single choice. But maximizers (i.e., those who strive to get the “best” of everything) are even more dissatisfied. Instead, Schwartz urges people to become satisficers who have their own standards and are okay with choosing the first option that meets them. In other words, bye-bye decision fatigue.
#7: Utilize the power of email templates.
How many of the same kinds of emails do you find yourself sending every week? If you’re anything like me, the answer is “a lot.” To save time (and your sanity), create email templates for the types of messages you find yourself sending most often. That way, all you have to do is plug in a few key details, and you’re good to go. Here’s a quick guide on how to do that.
#8: Run all of your errands in one day.
No one likes running errands. So stop torturing yourself every week and just knock them all out in one day (grocery shopping included).