Mastering Your Monday To-Do List [How to Gain MORE Time & Productivity]

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Time management is a daily uphill climb.


Just yesterday, I sat down with a colleague of mine over a cup of (iced!) coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops in town and this topic came up.


This woman, in her early 60’s, is a functional medicine doctor in town who, over the past few months, has also become a dear friend and mentor of mine in my own health practitioner journey.


[There is something to be said about having a mentor—learning from someone who has lived a little more life than you (after all, hindsight is 20/20)].


Let’s just call her my “Yoda.”



As Yoda and I sat there, having a morning ‘nerd session’—discussing “everyday” things like digestion, herbal supplements, and healing those struggling with anything and everything (from eating disorders to Diabetes to autoimmune diseases)—we came to the conclusion:


There is just not enough time in the day (to change the world that is).


“There is just so much to do, and so little time!” Yoda said.


The daily cry of my heart!


As I sit here writing this now, it’s nearly midnight, and in the blink of an eye, the day escaped me (yet again).


Do you ever feel the same way?


Not enough time in the day?


The worst: A never-ending to-do list.



Until most recently, I had an extremely bad habit of continually adding more to my to-do list.


Anytime something ‘to-do’ came to my mind, it instantly went on the list.


I keep sticky notes around me at all times.


In my car, on my countertop at home, by my bedside—you’d think I invented Post-Its with as much as I have invested in that company (that and clicky pens—they have to be clicky).


However, just this past week…I turned over a new leaf.


I started keeping a planner.







If there is ONE thing I’ve always been bad about, it is ‘sticking to a schedule’ or keeping a planner. I’ve tried for years to write my daily schedule down in a traditional planner, used various phone apps and Google calendars, started a blank notebook to fill with my to-dos…only time after time to…forget about it, and run straight back to the comforts of my STICKY NOTES.


There’s something about traditional planners that have always made my creative self feel ‘boxed in.’ Cut and dry, you are supposed to fill the blank space with just the black and white details of your checklist—with little to no room for creative thinking, notes, inspirations or reminders of your goals, purposes and passions in doing those things in the first place.


Enter: The Passion Planner.


My sis first introduced me to this amazingly cool startup, showing me her Passion Planner, filled with not only her to-dos, but plenty of space to write out her intentions, her goals and her passions and purposes for the week.


The planner prompts you to think about these things, and NOT FORGET THEM (your goals and intentions in particular).


The founder of Passion Planner describes the ‘slight edge’ difference in this unconventional planner, based on her similar experience with traditional, black-and-white, boring, plain-Jane planners in the past:


“Analysis paralysis. That was the feeling that spiraled me into a strange, post-grad depression and the problem that I wanted to help people overcome.  I decided to make a tool that helped people clearly define their personal goals and dreams and put them at the forefront of their attention, and a planner was PERFECT for this.”




Goals. Dreams. Forefront.



Do not lose sight of these. After all, they are imperative to our daily to-dos anyhow.


One of my mantras in life is “Do what you love, love what you do.”


This is a value of mine, which I know, if my daily to-dos are not aligned with my heart, I feel like I am just going through the motions.


This motto can apply to ALL areas of your life:

  • From your job, to
  • Your exercise
  • Downtime
  • Social time
  • Outside activities, hobbies and extra-curriculars
  • Your relationships
  • And more


In other words, stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, and align your daily to-dos with things the DO (matter).



Time management is a HUGE stumbling block to that feeling of ‘not enough time in the day’ and sidetracking us from the things that matter most to…our business, our self-care, our happiness, our health, etc.


Aside from sleeping 7-9 hours per night (the ideal), we have 15-17 more hours in there that are ours for the taking!


So what are you going to do with that? How are you going to better manage your time to make the things that matter to you happen?


For instance, exhibit A: My friend’s intention to manage her time better for self-care, something she (as a doctor in particular) truly values.


“You know, I just never have enough time for things like exercise—basic self-care I know I need to do, but I have so much to do, it’s hard to find the time,” my friend admitted.


However, after chatting a bit further, and problem solving potential ways to incorporate more daily movement into her own routine, my friend came to a conclusion on her own…


“30-minutes, that’s all I really need. I suppose I could go for more walks in the mornings, and even buy a pair of dumbbells to keep at home. I do know, the more I make an effort to do it, the stronger and healthier I feel—and at my age, that’s saying a lot!” she said.


Rooted within all of us, is the desire to do what we love and love what we do.

By keeping this intention (as well as the things we love, and our own goals) at the forefront of our minds…we can totally have our cake and eat it too (not just think about it, but actually experience it).
A THRIVE challenge I pose to you today?
What is ONE thing that you can do today to help you get to a particular goal you’ve been talking about wanting to do, but have yet to do?

Here’s some inspiration:

  • “Eat healthier”: Buy some fermented veggies at Whole Foods and add some probiotics to your life…Add Power Greens to your breakfast or dinner today…Drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water…Be ‘crazy’ and cook a new 20-minute healthy dish instead of opting for the usual takeout tonight.
  • “Accomplish a project (write a book, develop a manual, prepare a Powerpoint, finish that lingering task you’ve put on the back-burner, etc.)”: JUST SIT DOWN AND START IT…Write the first paragraph, pull together the pictures, do some research, etc.
  • “Get a new job I love”: Start looking…Polish up your resume…Hop on LinkedIn and make 3 connections today…
  • “Get stronger (lose weight/body fat, gain muscle, gain weight, etc.)”: Consider getting an individualized coach and look around…Commit to a plan…Add a bigger portion for lunch and dinner today…Nix the sugar…
  • “Improve my health” (Diabetes, headaches, autoimmune condition, etc.)”: Make an appointment to see a holistic practioner for a new approach you may not have ‘tried yet’ or book a life-styling session…Replace the Diet Cokes with La Croix or Topo Chico waters…Move for 30-minutes today…


You get the picture…starting (and accomplishing) whatever it is your heart desires comes down to FOCUS in your days. Make this FOCUS a part of your daily plan in your planner–and JUST FOCUS ON THE ONE THING YOU CAN DO TODAY. (Don’t let your mind sweep you away and get your panties all in a wad with that overwhelming feeling!).


And, if you need some inspiration on the daily, an unconventional Passion Planner can totally help get you there! (with space for your personal and work to-do list, your weekly focus, goals and place to write out the great things that happen in your day-to-day, or week-to-week).

I will soon be selling these on my own site, but in the meantime, check ‘em out here!


You can also test out the planner for yourself with this free download here.


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