How to Design a Super Simple Productive Week Without a To-Do List

7 Ways to Design a Simple Week Without To-Do Lists. (Free Weekly Planner Printable)

Weekly planner printable and tips to help you increase productivityThe other day I reached for my notebook and realized something big:

I’m 100% notes-free!

I don’t write things down anymore. I don’t scribble frantically the way I used to. And I don’t make to-do lists.

It happened organically. It wasn’t like I had an Aha moment where I thought I’m not using lists anymore. More like I just got tired of my list.

It always seemed like I added things to it faster than I could check things off. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed by what I needed to do. I just wanted to feel good about what I DID do.

Plus, my list was seriously messing with my focus.

I’d sit down to write a blog post, bang out the first few sentences, and then off my mind would go to a lesson I needed to create for my online course.

Then, while I was working on the course, I’d remember a video I wanted to record. When I switched gears to work on the video, I’d remember a pin I needed to create for last week’s blog post.

The struggle is real.

You’re all set to dive into a given task. Then your brain goes into overdrive on your list. Gotta shoot Michele an email real quick. Oops, forgot to regram @PinkDiaries. Lemme text Blake about dinner while I’m thinking about it.

Let’s flip the switch on all that! Let’s take back control and plan a week that plays out exactly the way we envision it, where we feel calm, centered and in control. I want to help simplify your schedule and free your focus so you can spend more time doing the work you really want to do.

My hope is that this design will make you feel excited and energized about the things you’ve already accomplished and the things you can’t wait to do.

Now, if lists are still your thing, I’ve got you covered! These posts will help you manage your list and plan your week effectively:

Bonus: If you want to get a jumpstart on planning, you can use the 90-Day Planner I created. It’s got sample milestones, goals, and tasks for each stage of your biz. Click on the image below to access.

Use the 90-Day Planner to create goal themes and milestones so you can get to your next stage quickly.


1) Tap into your Passion Zone.

Your Passion Zone includes those things you can do relentlessly, effortlessly, and repeatedly with a big smile on your face.

To help you tap into this, think about the tasks that make your heart soar. What in your work are you most passionate about? What sets your spirit free?

Once you know what those things are, your next step is to clear out your day so that you can spend more time in your zone.

Head’s up: It may take planning to weed out the tasks you shouldn’t be doing so you can open up your day for the right things. Start by putting the wheels in motion to outsource, delegate (or even drop) tasks that lie outside your Passion Zone. You may be surprised at how quickly things drop off your list as your re-prioritize.

2) Give yourself permission to focus.

Want to know what my success formula used to be?

Juggling a million things at once. In fact, the more things I had up in the air, the more successful I thought I’d be.

In reality, success comes from tackling one small task at a time.

The reason is that even the smallest tasks require intense focus, depth, and concentration to complete. You need to go all in to reap the rewards of your hard work.

But going all in can be scary, right? It takes moxie to focus on one thing and forget about everything else.

Here’s where a little faith can go a long way. Give yourself permission to be wildly, amazingly brilliant at one thing (and one thing alone) this week, k?

I’m pretty sure all the other stuff will be waiting for you next week. 🙂

3) Be present.

When you’re in the middle of writing a post and can’t stop thinking about the images you need to create for it, or the landing page you have to design, it might be time for a gut check.

Is writing a post really your top priority today?

Maybe not. It might be on your calendar, but your gut could be steering you toward something else, say, that course you started.

It’s hard to be present with your work if you’re fuzzy about what you should be working on in the first place.

When this happens, there are two things you can do:

First, trust your instincts.

Feel something tapping you on the shoulder? It’s a good thing, friend! Your instincts are like an inner guide nudging you in the right direction.

Gentle nudges usually mean big things. Maybe you’re ready to take a huge leap in your business. Or, maybe it’s time to shift gears and start a new project.

Whatever that big thing is, go with it. Your inner voice is talking to you and it wants you to listen.

Which brings me to:

Follow your instincts.

We’ve all done this.

We play a game with ourselves where we ask the same question twice, hoping to get a “no” instead of a “yes” the second time around.

If writing a blog post passes your gut check, you’ve got your answer. Time to roll up your sleeves, put your head down, and follow through with it.

You’ll be on to your next task before you know it. Pinky swear.



4) Throw away your list!

This is what I’m talkin’ about. No to the lists, yo.

My hunch is that to-do lists are doing us more harm than good by blocking our ability to stay in our Passion Zone.

Here’s why:

Having a list = spending time managing it = less time crushing it.

See where I’m going here?

We spend so much time managing lists and juggling all the tasks on them that list management is about all we have time to do. You wind up with a list that gets so long you can’t get to everything. Then, instead of feeling great about the things you ARE accomplishing, you feel like you’re failing.

This is why I think lists are slowing us down instead of driving us forward.

So go ahead, friend. Do it. Right now! Toss your list in the garbage.


Great! Let’s keep going…

5) Pick 3 priority tasks for the week.

Three is the perfect number to set your week free.

I started working with three tasks when I quit my list, and let me tell you, it’s magic. No more clutter. No more noise. No more hopping around from task to task. Just a wide-open canvas and a huge playing field to do my deep work.

You probably know a handful of things that you (and only you) should be working on that will:

  • Have the biggest impact on your business
  • Keep you in your Passion Zone
  • Make you feel energized about your work

You’ve just designed your Freedom Week. Bump. Without a huge list of things to do, your mind will now be free to dive into the work you love to do.

6) Commit to one hour.

This one’s pretty powerful.

When I go running, the first mile is always a bear. I want to stop. Turn around. Go right back inside and call it a day.

But, if I hang in there and get past the start, I can tap into a zone and forget about everything else.

Tacking projects that seem overwhelming is like waiting for that runner’s high to kick in. You have to give yourself enough time to get past your own resistance and into your zone.

Give each task one uninterrupted hour.

That means no email. No Facebook. Shut them down. No texts and no calls. If you have to, turn off your phone.

You may find that your first 20 minutes has you staring at a blank screen. Keep staring, even if you start feeling squirmy at this point. It takes at least this long to context shift, which is a fancy pants way of saying “task shift”. Your brain needs time to shift away from previous activities and process the task at hand.

Whatever you do, please resist the temptation to go do something else! When we have big projects or things that overwhelm us, we tend to want to do things like:

  • Run to the girl’s room real quick
  • Clean up your desk area
  • Poke around social media (a HUGE one for me)
  • Check your email
  • Count your Instagram followers
  • Text a friend
  • And more

One hour, friend. That’s all you need to get past your resistance. After that, you’ll be fully immersed and crushing it.

7) Develop a routine.

My husband and I went on vacation this summer and after four days, I couldn’t wait to get home. I missed my routine.

Sounds boring, right?

There’s something about doing the same thing every day that gives you a sense of purpose and reaffirms your ability to achieve your weekly tasks.

Here’s my daily routine:

Every morning I get up, make a cup of tea, straighten up my apartment, and get myself together. Doing these simple things every morning gives my brain time to gear up for the day.

I take a half hour to read through email before I dive into my deep work, which is most often content creation.

Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, I go for a run around lunchtime to shake off the morning and gear up for the afternoon.

Later in the day, I meet with my team to coordinate projects. Then, I recap where I’m at so that I can pounce on the next day.

From there, it’s rinse and repeat.

See how doing things repetitively like this can give your day a sequence? There’s little room for guesswork because there’s not a whole lot to think about.

Doing things habitually is like strength training for the mind, in my book. Because your brain already knows what to expect, it can fire on all cylinders right away.

How’s that for a super productive week?

Don’t forget to grab the 90-Day Planner so you can start crushing your goals:

Use the 90-Day Planner to create goal themes and milestones so you can get to your next stage quickly.
15 replies
  1. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    Thanks for these tips! As someone who loves being organized but is a serial procrastinator, I will definitely be trying these ideas to get in a better habit. The one hour idea is great, if I can follow through!

  2. Caroline Domanska
    Caroline Domanska says:

    Sounds scary but I use something similar for focusing each day – my super sales six which is about making sure I do revenue boosting stuff every day. But I still have a horribly long to do list. I’m going to do the top 3 for the week sounds good! Thanks

  3. Polly
    Polly says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time… I’ve been starting to feel overwhelmed with the holidays coming up and there just being so much to do, between work and family and travel (and my blog!). Thanks so much for the advice – I especially love the “rule of three”!

  4. Lizzie Moult
    Lizzie Moult says:

    I am going to try the one hour dedicated to a task over the coming weeks. I have been trying to get there but man there are so many things in life that are distracting! I do find that like you spoke about running, after you start getting past the block it just comes with ease. I love this, this is where my creative juices are, they just need a little warm up before they really get going.

    • Sandra Clayton
      Sandra Clayton says:

      Hey Lizzie, I’m so with you – if you can force yourself to stay in one task long enough, you get past the resistance your brain has to shifting into it 100%. Then, you’re in. The 1-hour rule has been working for me lately. Hope it works for you!

  5. Alvern at Success Unscrambled
    Alvern at Success Unscrambled says:

    Great ideas here Sandra, I especially love staring at the screen until something happens, lol! I personally don’t have a list right now but I believe I would need one for my product launch. What’s your take on a list for product launches?

  6. Julie Syl Kalungi
    Julie Syl Kalungi says:

    Totally Love it, Found you in Blogging Boost and I agree with almost everything you say. Definitely there are things I don’t need to do, and I usually avoid them! Sometimes though they are the things I MUST Do. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Abby Smas
    Abby Smas says:

    I’m with you 100%! Except- lists. Alexa and my Echo Show have saved my sanity. I set up my routines there and that’s where I keep my lists. My…37… lists! I know, I know. A lot of people would absolutely hate that, but my lists, along with the voice recorder app on my phone are essential. I have Fibromyalgia and Long COVID. I’ve always been ditzy but this brain fog has taken me to a whole new level of forgetfulness and confusion.
    Thus, Alexa.
    Going to a doctor? Check out the list for that visit.
    Running errands? What stops are on my “Errands” list?
    Working in the office? What am I supposed to do there?
    Major project? I’ve got a list for that.
    I can’t possibly remember all the details of my life without lists. And the routines that Alexa has set up for me. Routines allow for that time blocking that helps me get things done.
    This is especially important now that I am researching to invest in a business I want with my daughter. With my health issues, I am not reliable as I used to be. I cannot count on a good day. I may have a day of zoned out sitting when I hardly know my own name!
    So yes, lists. You have to know how to access and manage your lists, and to find them easily. You have to be clear in your priorities and maybe only have ONE a day. But that’s a really important one. And that ONE priority just might need a LIST!
    Blessings upon us all.


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