The First Step To Minimize Your To Do List

Sometimes we want to do it all but doing it all can drive us to feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and over our home and life. Thankfully there’s a remedy to doing it all, but it requires you making the first step towards minimizing what’s on your plate day to day.

In this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast, I’m helping you make the first step towards lessening your daily to dos and having more peace in your home and life. You’ll learn how to go from a laundry list of to dos to focusing on what’s truly important to you and your home.

Word For Word

Ashley Brown  00:00

[Intro] Routines, my absolute favorite word, but you either love them or you hate them. And either way, I strongly believe that routines can be a springboard for improving your home, yourself and your life. I'm Ashley Brown, and this is a routine and things podcast. In each episode we'll dive into a specific routine or point of view that will move you closer to enjoy life more and more each day. Trust me, you're going to want to keep listening, because you're well on your way to getting and staying happy.


Ashley Brown  00:47

Hey, welcome to the routine things podcast. I'm so happy that you're joining me yet again this week. So in this episode, as you saw from the title, we're going to be discussing how do you actually minimize your to do lists? In the first step in minimizing your to do list, I think this is a very important topic to talk about because we are in a culture where more sometimes is the norm, right? Like, everyone's saying you need this and you need to do this and that and this and that, blah, blah. That's how I hear it in my head. And it's so many things thrown at us from media, from friends, from family, those around us, co workers, excetera. And sometimes it can be hard for us to really distinguish what we want to do versus what others kind of throw at us, right? It's so many different mediums that are saying you should do this and you should do that. And that can start to create like a laundry list of to do's because we feel like We have to do it all. And I don't believe that I believe that we should be doing it all, if it's something that we want to do, but I honestly think the joy of motherhood and the joy of homemaking comes when we keep it simple. Simplicity can spark so much joy, like keeping it simple just helps you to better be able to manage your life,  to better be able to manage your home, and just really gives you a sense of peace that you desire and that you deserve.


Ashley Brown  02:32

Before I get into talking about what the first step is in minimizing your to do list, I want to know if you've planned. Have you planned this week? Have you dumped, decided, and scheduled out your to do's? Have you prioritized what matters? Have you decided what is really your piece priorities for this week? If not get to it, if you have kudos to you, because planning is how we're going to keep all of our routines in rotation. So by you planning, you're reminding yourself and you are twice as likely to actually reach your home and life goals. Before I get into what the first step is, I think it's important to talk about why we have a tendency to want to do all the things.  Girl, you know what I'm talking about, doing all the things, like being too extra, like way too extra. My hand is raised behind this mic because I am guilty of doing way too much. Being an overachiever, wanting to do all the things, having Superwoman syndrome, I am such I might raise my hand back here. So I definitely get it, but doing all the things ran me into being anxious, being overwhelmed, feeling overworked, stressed, and like, I'm over this like I'm over this motherhood, home making stuff. So I really want for you to hear me when I say, doing all the things does not help you. Doing all the things more than likely will cause more harm than good. So why do we have the tendency to want to do all the things? Why do we always have these laundry list of things to do? Papers full of or pages full of checkboxes. Why do we get into this checkbox syndrome? We just want to make checkbox after checkbox to make ourselves feel better. Like what is that all about? Why do we feel like we need to be doing all of the things? So I'm gonna speak from just my personal experience, because I know this is why I was doing all the things at one point and it could be why you aren't doing all the things still today.


Ashley Brown  04:43

So one, we want to be able to help everyone, so people pleasing is huge when we're doing all of the things because why else will we be doing all of the things? It's not like we want to do all of those things. Honestly if you look at your to do lists this week and you have an impossible to do list, which is like a buttload of things to do. Do you really want to do all of those things? And do you really need to do all those things? Really ask yourself that question, or do you feel like you're doing these things because you want to please those around you. So you're going to the basketball game that your friend invited you to because you're best friends.  You're sitting in on the PTA meeting because your son's teachers said that it was really important for you to sit in on it. You are making five separate dishes for dinner because your kids do not want to eat what you are cooking for yourself and your partner.  I'm getting to some real stuff here because it's real. Right so people pleasing can definitely be a cause of you having an impossible to do list. And honestly can be a cause of you don't all of the things.


Ashley Brown  05:56

Also sometimes we feel powerful when we get a lot accomplished. It makes us feel really good, it honestly, like validates us in a way. When we see like a huge laundry list of things to do. And we just start checking them off. We'd be like, Yeah, I got that done. Yeah, I'm doing it this week, like, I'm getting this stuff done. And it validates us. That's why when we end up getting like small lists, like we write out, we plan and we have a small list, we're like, thinking, I need to be doing something else. This list is way too small. But no, it's not way too small. It's just you're so used to doing so much because we sometimes feel so validated by doing a lot and we feel powerful and we are able to get a lot done. And so that just kind of feeds us in a way, if this is making any sense. So that's another reason why you could be doing all the things. I know that was at one point the case for me.


Ashley Brown  06:57

Another one is F.O.M.O. fear of missing out, fear of missing out is real. And a lot of times we will put things on our to do list because we don't want to miss out on it. Because we don't want our coworker talking about it the next day, because we don't want our friend that went to that event to be telling us all the juicyness that happened and the fun that happened at the event or what went down. A lot of times that's why because we feel like we need to be in certain places all the time, because we're going to miss out. So that could definitely be a reason why your to do list is too long. And the last thing is maybe you just don't know how to effectively plan. So you bring them on your to do lists. You write out lists based upon what pops into your head, which is a huge no, no. So maybe that's why you haven't been, so maybe that's why you haven't been able to get your to do lists to a place that actually makes you feel like yes, I can accomplish this, without one feeling defeated before I even begin, and two feeling depleted by the time I get done with this. So those are just some of the tendencies for why we do all the things and why we want to do all the things or at least try to do all of the things. If you've been doing that, that's probably why one of those four reasons. And like I say, I know all about this so you're not alone if you've been having a laundry list of to dos. I used to be such a poor planner. So I definitely understand until I started realizing like, this is for the birds, like I cannot keep this up.


Ashley Brown  08:36

So let's get into the first step because that's why you're here. The first step in minimizing your to do list is figuring out what you want, figuring out what it is that you want, and specifically what you want for yourself and what you want for your family. That's the first step in minimizing your to do list. There are so many distractions that pull us away, or they at least try to pull us away and sometimes it succeeds. And it pulls us away from really what it is that we want out of life and for our home and for our family. We have distractions from TV, from social media, right? Like, all of those things can distract us by telling us what we should want, and sometimes we fall into that trap without even realizing it. A lot of times you have to remember I want you to really be clear on this that every thought that you have is not just your thought. It's not even your thought at all, it's thoughts from you looking at social media, TV, etc. So sometimes those things can sway us to think, oh, she just bought that stroller for her child like they just bought their stroller, so okay, I think I need that stroller. Oh, she shops at Target. Oh, I need to start shopping at target to. Do you want to shop at Target? I mean, if you don't want to shop at Target, I don't know what's wrong with you, but I'm just kidding. Because I freaking love target. But do you really want to shop at Target? Do you really want that stroller that your best friend just bought? Like, do you really want that? Do you really want to have your child in two to three sports every week because your neighbor has their child in two to three sports? Do you really want that?


Ashley Brown  10:31

So figuring out what you want is so crucial to minimizing your to do lists. Because when you don't know what you want, what you are going to do is you are going to just start writing down other people's thoughts that have popped into your head from TV and social media and the distractions and you're just going to start writing out all these things that you want to do throughout the week because you just saw somebody on Instagram post they did five crafts every day with their child. But do you want to do crafts? Let's get real mama. Like let's get real. Do you want to do crafts with your child, maybe you don't want to do five in a week, maybe you just want to do one. So just because you see someone on Instagram, social media, posting about their children doing crafts, and I'm talking about myself, because if you follow me, you know, I love doing crafts with my child. If you don't want to do crafts, don't do crafts, every single day. Listen to some music, have your child watch a show on TV, like whatever that is for you. But you have to first decide what you want, what you want.


Ashley Brown  11:37

So then how do we figure out what we want, right? I put it out there, decide what you want and figure that out. But you might be like, how do I actually decide what I want? How do I make that really crystal clear for myself? And I'm going to give you some ways that you can help yourself decide what it is that you actually want. First, you want to think about what brings joy. What brings you joy? What makes you happy? Is it being with your family most of the time? Is it being with your family sometimes and being with your friends other times? Is it you sitting on the couch? Netflixing and chilling? Is it you going to get your hair done, your nails done? Is it you taking your children to a museum, to see the expression on their face when they learn something new? is are you going outside and exploring with your child at a park or just on a walk, because ya'll like outdoors? Is it you and your spouse sitting at the house having dinner together versus going to a movie? Like what brings you joy? What makes you happy to do, in life and in your home? Like what is that for you? So first think about what brings you joy.


Ashley Brown  12:49

Secondly, I want you to think about this if everybody minded their own business. I feel like I need to repeat that again. I really feel like deep in my spirit I need to repeat that again. If everybody stayed in their own home, and refrained from giving their two cents, what would your life look like? I want you to ask yourself that question. If everybody minded their own business and refrained from giving their two cents, so they didn't give their two cents in your life. How would your life look now? I want you to think about that. Would you be in that kitchen baking cookies with your daughter? Would you be outside taking your son on a walk? Would you be attending that PTA meeting? Would you be taking your daughter to her dance class at 9am, on Saturday morning? How would your life look, if everybody minded their own business and didn't say two words to you, about your life? How would it look? And when I'm throwing out these things, I want to make it very clear that none of these things are right or wrong. Right like, it's what you want. As homemakers, yes, we want to make sure that we are providing for our children that we are loving on ourselves, our family, our partners, like we want to make sure those things, instilling good values in our family, like all of that. But like really being specific about what you want is so important. Right? It's not just one road to get to where you're trying to go. Where I'm from, we have multiple highways, I can go on multiple highways to get to where I'm going. So it's the same. So just because you don't want to go to a PTA meeting, maybe you are a part of a program that helps your child's school after school, it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to be that you take your child to their 9am dance class, maybe you're like, you know, we're going to do swimming and that's at 6pm because I'm not a morning person.  I mean, honestly, maybe we're going to find a program that is a little bit later on like around ten thirty instead of nine, because I can barely make it there on time and it doesn't help you any If we're not there on time. Like, it's like just thinking so granular like that. What do you want to think about that? How would your life look if everybody minded their own business?


Ashley Brown  15:09

And then if you could do three things every day, what would those three things be? If you could do three things every single day of your life? What would those three things be? This will like, cut out a lot of noise. Who would you be with? What would you be doing? Would you be chilling in the house with your family? Would you be reading your favorite book every day? Would you be going on a walk in the morning before work? Like what is that? Think about it? What are the three things that you would do every day? So those are some ways and things that you can think about? An exercise that you can do and where to figure out what actually you want to do? And it doesn't have to look like what your neighbor's wants look like. It doesn't have to look like what your coworkers wants look like. It doesn't have to look like what your best friend's wants look like. It's what do you want?  Cut out all the noise. I'm not sitting right here thinking about, oh, what does Shelly want down the street? By the way, I don't have a Shelly on my street. But I'm not like, oh, what, what does? What would she say about what I want? I don't give two cents like, I mean, honestly I don't. What I want is I want to do crafts with my child. What I want is for my husband and me to go on date nights every week. What I want is to have my daughter in a dance class at 9:30am and Saturday morning, like that's what I want. And that's good for me. What I want is to cook almost every day because I love cooking like that's what I want. So you have to figure out what it is that you want.


Ashley Brown  16:46

Now I know I don't want my child to be in more than one activity at a time. I know that for sure. So that's another thing that you can do is really deciding what you don't want, because sometimes I will say it is easier for you to decide what you want by canceling out what you don't want first. So that might be easier for you. What do you not want? What do you not want to do in life? That's another exercise for you to think about. Like I said, I know that I don't want my children being in more than one event at a time or more than one activity at a time. I know that for sure. I know, I don't want to go get my hair done at a salon. I would rather do my hair myself. Like I know I don't want that. It would be nice at times, but I know like legitly I don't want that though. That's why I don't go get my hair done at a salon because I don't want it. I don't want to always sit in the house. I like to get out and go. I like to do activities, go to events, travel. I like my me time, but also at a certain point, I'm like, I gotta get out this house. So I know I don't always just want to sit in the house. But maybe there's something you want to do. That could be really helpful trying to understand what you don't want. So go through those exercises. What brings joy? If everyone minded their own business, what would your life look like? If you could do three things every day, what would those things be? And then deciding and really getting clear on what you do not want. Do those exercises. Think about those today. Take out a piece of paper, write it down, and get clear about what it is that you want. And don't feel guilty about what you want either.


Ashley Brown  18:27

And I want to tell you this one thing, do not allow the world to dump it's thoughts or opinions onto your to do list. That needs to stop today. The next time you sit down and plan, do not allow what you have been saying absorbing in your mind, to go onto your to do list from other people. Really examine your list. When you start to figure out what it is that you really want. You will see a dramatic difference in your to do list. So next time you sit down to plan what I want you to do is once you've written out your to do list, really examine each item and ask yourself, do I really want this? That's what I want you to do, do I really want this. And you are going to see a dramatic shift in your planning and in the amount of things you put onto your to do lists, you're going to see a difference, and you're going to see that list start to shrink. I want you to start planning based upon what you want for your family. And of course, this may change. Of course, you need to consider your partner if you have a partner because it's important to consider what they want as well because you're a family unit, and you want to be on the same page, but first get clear about what you want. Then you can team up with your partner and then y'all can consider how to merge all of that together to make both of you satisfied.


Ashley Brown  19:54

No more brain dumping onto your to do lists. No more feelings of F.O.M.O. No more people pleasing. Unless you know you want to be doing the things. No more feeling validated by you just doing. I have a whole podcast episode coming out about that. So stay tuned. No more ineffective planning. Let's get this together, you can do it girl, you have the resources to plan effectively. But that is the first step to minimizing it to do lists, figuring out what you want, for your home, for your life, for your family, figure it out this week, figure it out today. Take the time to really sit down and do those exercises because I'm telling you once you do, you're gonna want to get really clear about what you want. And that is going to dramatically change the way that you plan. It's going to help you minimize your to do lists and when you minimize that to do lists. What comes after that, you now are more likely to accomplish your goals. One when you plan you're already twice as likely to accomplish your goals. But if you're planning effectively and minimizing the amount of things that you have to do, girl, you won't be three times as likely to accomplish the goals that you set out for yourself and for your home. But that's it for today. That's the episode. Stop doing all the things. Get clear about what it is that you actually want.


Ashley Brown  21:25

So next week, we're going to be getting a little bit deeper into planning by helping you to learn how to consistently accomplish your home goals. So, we've talked about the first step, deciding what you want. Now we're going to go a little bit deeper. So come back next week, listen in, because I know that you're going to get a lot out of the next episode. Thank you for listening today. Thank you so much for being a part of this community. If you haven't subscribed yet, make sure you subscribe, hit that subscribe button, rate and review as well. And then also share this podcast on social media, share it with a friend and passing, share it with someone that you feel like what really need, what this podcast offers. And I thank you in advance for doing that. Until next time, I hope that you enjoy wherever you are right now and whatever you are doing. I'll talk to you soon.


Ashley Brown  22:24

[Outro] Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, could you do me a huge favor and take a screenshot and share it on social, and for more routine goodness, be sure to visit Here's to staying happy!

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