Do you struggle with being productive in your day? Do the tasks seem overwhelming and the interruptions endless? Do you get to the end of your day and wonder where the time went? Same.
Even though I no longer work a 9-5 job, I still have an insane amount of tasks on my plate every day. It can be overwhelming and I often find myself ping-ponging between different tasks, which makes it really hard to ever feel like I’m making any forward progress.
Here is how to structure your day for success using the 1-3-5 method.
Minimize The Overwhelm
When I feel unproductive, frustration sets in and I want to scream to myself “Productivity is my superpower! Why can’t I get anything done?” The answer is I am trying to do too much at once.
I simplified my to-do list by categorizing my tasks under the 4 major spheres of my life (self-care, family, church & blog). READ: How I Supercharged My To Do List
Your spheres may be something like work, home, community & me-time. Whatever your spheres look like, it's easier to think of your daily tasks by sphere so you can focus on work tasks when your at work, home tasks when you're at home and not vice-versa. One giant to-do list can easily get too messy to tackle.
I then eliminated tasks from the list that were aspirational but did not need to get done that day. Eliminating tasks is the way to minimize the overwhelm.
Budget Your Time
Budgeting your time is just like budgeting your money, you first have to figure out where it’s all going before you can assign the realistic timeframes for getting things done.
In an effort to figure out how I could be more efficient with my time and get more meaningful things done, I wrote down what I did each day for a week and color coded it according to the 4 major spheres of my life. In doing so, I was able to see at a glance where I was spending my time. I found that I the most productive times for me were the afternoons and evenings.
This analysis helped me to determine where I was wasting time and which part of the day to assign big tasks.
Group Like Tasks By Day
For a while I have been assigning certain days to focus on specific life sphere tasks. For you, this might look like running reports on Tuesdays, doing strategy sessions on Mondays, booking meetings on Wednesdays, etc.
I love seeing how other people spend their time so if I've included a snapshot below of my various tasks and how I group them by day in case you're curious.
Church- Tuesdays, Sundays,
My responsibilities for the church include running the website, planning and executing church events, running hospitality, directing and teaching the children’s ministry, managing the social media, helping with strategic planning, spearheading facility repairs and design projects, helping counsel couples, designing and printing the church bulletin, and overseeing the church finances. I do the bulk of these big tasks on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Family- Daily / Saturday Mornings
Manage the finances, gardening, meal planning, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, checking personal email & child rearing.
Blog- Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Brand building, Content creation, product creation, site maintenance, content promotion, marketing, social media, photography, research and development, email campaigns, course creation, online courses, conferences, networking & checking email.
Self Care- Daily
Meditation, Prayer, Bible reading, Exercise, Shower, Get Ready, Reading, Relaxing, Watching Movies, Listening to Music, getting News & information updates, catching up with friends, spending time with my husband and son.
Those tasks that occur daily are generally small to medium so I can easily find time to make them priorities using the 1-3-5 method since some days I struggle with exercising, taking a shower and getting ready. I can often be found still in my workout clothes at the end of the day, never having showered or worked out, so prioritizing self-care on my list is a helpful reminder for me to stop what I'm doing and focus on those small tasks.
Structure Your Day For Success the 1-3-5 Way
The 1-3-5 method is awesome because it takes that crazy to do list of ours and whittles it down to 9 tasks. This saves us from trying to conquer the world with our to-do-lists, which in turn, saves us from overwhelm. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was built one day at a time. Choosing which tasks to focus on each day will ultimately get you moving forward toward a productive end. Not all 9 tasks are created equal either, which is the beauty of this method.
ONE Big Task (90 minutes to 3 hours)
Out of your entire to-do-list, you get to choose 1 big thing to do each day. That's it. I like to block out deep work time for this big task. Deep Work is defined by Cal Newport as "the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task".
I allow myself 90 minutes of un-interrupted focus on the one big task I need to accomplish for the day. If 90 minutes isn’t enough, I double it but include a break in between.
THREE Medium Tasks (30- 45 minutes)
Scan your to-do list for three things that you can do in 30-45 minutes (check email, meet with your manager, cook dinner, etc). These are your three medium tasks you must focus on today.
FIVE Small Tasks (15 minutes or less)
Lastly, choose five tasks on your list that you can do in 15 minutes or less. (call the babysitter, schedule the oil change, pay a bill, pick up kids, etc)
Without being too rigid, this gives you a solid 5.5 hours of focused productivity baked into your day that you can count on. Obviously the goal is three times that amount since most of us are awake for 15-16 hours/day but this is a great starting point if you're feeling overwhelmed with getting things done.
You can split the time up for these tasks however suits your schedule.
Sample 1-3-5 Daily Task Structure
Here's a sample of my simplified 1-3-5 daily tasks schedule by life sphere.
1- Big Task- Restructure Church Facility Renter’s Lease Agreement
3- Medium Tasks- organize Sunday School curriculum, plan Teacher Training, reach out to teachers to Save the date
5- Small Tasks- order water filter replacements, call for quote on parking lot, call for painter quotes, choose paint colors for Nursery, pick up supplies for hospitality
1- Big Task- Write Blog Post
3- Medium Tasks- Promote Post, Upload/edit Photos, Write Newsletter
5- Small Tasks- Optimize Pinterest, Network with other bloggers, Optimize SEO, Site Updates, upcoming Tasks list
1- Big Task- Clean out Luke’s drawers
3- Medium Tasks- balance checkbook, vacuum and mop floors, trim trees in the backyard
5- Small Tasks- wash, fold and put away laundry, wash and put away dishes, change and launder bedding, do recycles, set aside clothing for Goodwill.
In Summary, here is how you can structure your day for success using the 1-3-5 method for organizing daily tasks.
- Minimize the overwhelm
- Budget your time
- Assign specific days for like tasks
- Implement the 1-3-5 Method
- 1 big task
- 3 medium tasks
- 5 small tasks
This will keep you focused on the most important things and at a minimum give you 5.5 hours of productivity baked in.
Happy list making!
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
OMG, Lisa Fischer!!! I NEEDED this!!! I am usually extremely productive, I thrive on it, it is how I feel justified at the end of the day. Unfortunately the past couple of weeks I seem to be going in circles and my to do list seems to be just continually growing! I will be implementing this strategy right away!! Thank you so much for all of your shared insight. It is so beneficial to me.
I am so happy to hear from you Carolyn! And even happier to hear that the post helped you. Thank you so much for sharing. Hugs to you and your family!