4 Ways To Tackle What's Really Behind Your Neverending To Do List

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Self

Delete, strikethrough, checkmark, or the old-fashioned pencil to paper. You definitely know that feeling you get when you can cross an item off your neverending to-do list. 

But that accomplishment and relief only last for a brief moment, because the rest of the list is still right there waiting.

It can be overwhelming to see a list of to-do's that never dwindles, one that just keeps growing no matter how many items you cross off. And there's always a "must do item" that pops up now and then. 

RELATED: 3 Ways To Stay Focused So You Can Finish Your ‘To-Do’ List, Every Single Day

I myself have picked up my cell phone with my mom on speed dial, exasperated as I asked her, "How am I going to ever get this all done?!" 

Moms always seem to pull it all together and juggle more than humanly possible. Her advice: "Take one thing at a time."

But you can only do so many things at one time or be in so many places. 

4 Ways to tackle your neverending to-do list.

1. Shift your mindset and priority.

I check in with myself and what I'm capable of accomplishing in that day.

Some days, you have enough energy to be like the Energizer Bunny, and other days, you're not quite 100 percent. It’s important to realize you're not a robot.

You're a "human being," which is not the same as "human doing." Being realistic of what can be achieved for the day, what's absolutely necessary to get done, or what can be part of a weekly goal.  

Emergencies are never planned and that can throw off your entire day, week, or even month. Take a breath. Take a minute to collect your thoughts, get centered and strategize.

Whether you use an old school hanging on the wall with puppies calendar, a journal, or an app, reviewing your month ahead is a good way to start.

2. Maximize your time.

Now that you have an overview of what events are already in place, you can start to actually plan and maximize your time.

Do you need to buy that card or gift for an upcoming birthday? While out at the store, look over your calendar and see if there are other items that also need to be picked up. 

Choose a store that may be next to the dry cleaner or grocery store to maximize efficiency. What can you order online? Make sure you pay attention to the shipping dates to ensure it comes before the date it's needed. 

Are you notorious for waiting too long to make big decisions and get absolutely stuck at crunch time? You might end up paying a higher price because you missed a sale or hastily made a decision at the last minute that can cost you money in the long run.

If you have a big decision on your to-do list like buying a new car, changing healthcare, or applying for a workshop, seminar, or certification, create a research tab and take note of early bird dates, days of sales (especially holidays), deadlines, and any additional information.

This way you can prepare before you walk into the dealership, access affordable and comprehensive health coverage, or not miss that 50 percent discount.

For me, cooking is my dilemma. If I don't plan ahead, I'm grabbing random ingredients to throw together that aren't the greatest choices. On Sundays, I meal prep. I try to make meals I can freeze and then take out during the week to heat up.

There are many great apps that you can use while grocery shopping that actually tell you which aisles to find ingredients for the recipe you're looking to make and what you already have on hand. 

RELATED: 10 Habits Of Highly Productive People

3. Know when to let go.

To avoid burnout and to keep my sanity, I've learned to prioritize myself first. That means I'll take that hour to exercise or go for that walk. 

Helpful tip: scheduling yoga class, strength training, Orange Theory, Peloton, etc., helps you stay accountable and show up. 

I don’t sacrifice sleep, being the best version of myself means being rested. I do function at full throttle and that requires the fuel and rest to wake up energized, not sluggish and foggy. 

Understand that there's only one you and you can only do and control so much. 

I finally bought an Apple Watch that pings me throughout the day to stand, breathe, and to move for 30 minutes. Yes, it's quite pushy. But this device helps remind me of the basic human needs I possess. 

I get so caught up in what I'm doing that I need to be reminded if I've been sitting at my desk for two hours and it's time to get up and move my body. 

I also need to put down the phone or the mouse and take a minute and do a few deep breaths, I need to walk away from the emails and grab my pup's leash and go for a nice walk we'll both get something from.

Guess what? That neverending to-do list is still there and the world won't explode if you take a minute for yourself.

What keeps you up at night? Before bed, jot down thoughts that are rushing through your head. Get it out on paper or a computer (for those like me who can’t read their own writing).

Now, let it all go. Many times, there's nothing you can do at 2am. The best thing to do is sleep. Close down the apps. Let your body and mind reset. 

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4. Use organization tools to help streamline.

The right platform or product can absolutely help with streamlining your personal and professional life. 

Automation is your friend. We are very lucky to live in a time where we literally can be on an island while our business is humming along without us, if set up correctly.

For instance, Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and Hubspot are great marketing tools to help with your business's marketing automation.

Instead of responding to a hundred emails, you can have something in place that integrates with your calendar like Calendly so you aren't tied down at your computer manually responding and scheduling.

Hootsuite and Loomly are great for content publishing and can help you create posts and ads from scratch. Zapier or IFTTT can eliminate the repetitive tasks you have to get to daily.

And, if you're at your wit's end, and taking days to respond to an email or even your best friend's phone call, it may be time for a virtual assistant. They're like fairy godmothers who swoop in and sprinkle some magic to free up your brain and your inbox. 

Depending on the project, you can find a VA to work full or part-time doing anything from managing your calendar, overseeing specific projects, or personal errands.

A neverending to-do list doesn't have to take over your life with neverending daily tasks.

Be grateful that you have a full life, even the mundane errands with the right perspective can change your mood about what you're doing in any given moment. 

Instead of saying, "I have to..." I say, "I get to..." and fill in the blank. It's more empowering to shift your mindset this way.  

Crossing that last item off your list may never happen and that's OK. The neverending to-do list evolves daily. At the end of the day, lists are just a way of organizing your thoughts. 

There's always going to be something that needs your attention, you just don’t want your daily action items to take over and flood your world.

So, try pre-planning, streamlining with some products or services, and letting go in the evening to refresh and recharge.

RELATED: 6 Steps To Get Organized When You’re Overwhelmed By Tasks

Melissa Blatt is the founder of indipop, a marketplace that offers high-value, simple and affordable healthcare for the self-employed. indipop health plans are designed to match all budgets and needs.