To-Do List Hacking: A Radical Way to Plan Out Your Day

To-Do List Hacking: A Radical Way to Plan Out Your Day

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Adrienne Breaux
Nov 8, 2014
(Image credit: Kelly Brown and Melissa Milakovic)

How do you first begin your to-do list in the morning? Do you write down the deadlines you have coming up? The people you need to email? The stuff you need to remember to pick up from the grocery store? The 56 things you need to do around the house to prepare for a party? There's an alternative way to organize the things you do in a day, and it's actually a pretty simple shift of perspective that might make life just a little better.

The secret? Put you and your health — physical and mental — first, and treat those tasks with the same detail as you do other tasks. Then fill in the rest. Here's how:

1. Identify the healthy things you want to incorporate into your daily life.

Is it wake up early to meditate? Have enough time to fix a healthy meal from scratch at night? Walk 10,000 steps? Wipe down your kitchen counters and dust the bedroom daily? If you magically had half as much work to do on a daily basis, what are the things you would do just for you? Don't be shy about adding mental health things, like reading a couple of chapters out of your favorite book or just relaxing.

2. Then map out what you need to do for those healthful things to happen.

Just like we've coached you before with thinking about home and DIY tasks — breaking them down into exactly each small step needed to complete (from going to the store, to what to get to the store to how to set up something) — do the same with tasks that relate to you. Want to wake up early and go for a run? Write down what needs to happen, like laying out your workout clothes the night before. Or if you want to make a healthy dinner at home each weeknight, break down the tasks like picking out recipes ahead of time and what to get at the grocery store.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

3. Fit the rest of your to-do list tasks around you-centered tasks

We know, easier said than done, but perhaps enough weeks in a row of fitting work around you, instead of the other way around, could be just the thing to add more balance into your life. If your to-do list starts getting too long, find a way to cut back on the work things first, not into healthy things you filled it up. Make tasks for you first in, last out.

4. Reinforce that you come first by tackling as many you-centered tasks as possible first.

Even if — actually, especially if — you're extraordinarily busy and feel like you need to dive into tackling work tasks as soon as you are out of bed, stay strong and work on the tasks that involve making you healthier first.

How do you make sure you fit enough healthy and happy you-time in your day? Let us in on any secrets you've discovered!

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