How to Succeed in Doing Your To-Do’s

Ahira Perez-Santelices

July 01, 2021

Our current setup brought about by the pandemic made us spend most, if not all, of our time inside our homes. We are all given 24 hours a day, but sometimes I wish weekends, summer, or semester breaks are longer while the time for studies and work is shorter. But no, we all get 24 hours. This means that our perspective and attitude towards our time will determine whether we are being productive or just being busy. 

In my journey as a student, as a young professional who took my Masters, and now as a married person, I realized that there are basic concepts that are applicable to every season to make sure that we get to do what we need to do in a given amount of time. Here are those basic concepts:

1. Plan what you need to do. Make a list. Create a schedule. Download an app. Discover what would help you create the habit of planning.

2. Prioritize. Manage your schedule according to your priority. For some, doing the big things first would give them a better motivation to keep on going. Some manage their time by allocating a specific amount of time to a specific task. 

3. Commit to doing what you’ve planned. Now, this is the hard part. Here’s why:

We all know our deadlines and how to make a list of to-dos, but the real question is how to do our to-dos especially

When you don’t feel like doing it. Hello, katamaran!

When you can’t focus. Hello, distractions!

When you’re just tired. Hello, pagod!

When there’s just tons of added load. Hello mga biglaan at pa-surprise!

When you’re at home and you have other chores. (Hello Ma at Pa, mahal namin kayo! Hello kapatid, ikaw naman.)

(Ready na lahat ng gagawin mo, ikaw na lang talaga ang hindi. Na-realize ko na kahit sa time management, palaliman pa rin ng hugot at palakihan pa rin ng puso ’yan.)

This means that our commitment to manage our time and keep doing our to-dos is connected to what happens inside our hearts. So how can we fight for the things that we have to do?

Here are some practical tips:

1. Remember what you are called to do this season.

You are a student; therefore, you need to study.

You are a son or a daughter who lives with your parents and needs to help with chores.

You are a Christian who has a loving relationship with God, and you need to read your Bible and pray. 

You are still a person with friends, and you need people. 

You are a leader, and you need to lead, and leading takes time. 

When you have a deeper and clearer understanding of what you are called to do, you will experience a different sense of discipline and willingness to finish your tasks no matter how small or simple they may be. This may sound too much but I believe that every task that we finish brings us closer to fulfilling our calling. 

2. Focus!

I don’t know about you, but every time I start writing my essays or reading, watching Netflix, sleeping, or opening my Facebook becomes more enticing.

But nooooo! Fight the urge to open an app or do something else. Focus is not just saying “no” to things that are not on your to do list, it is also saying “yes” to covering whatever is on your list.

Focus on what you’re doing. Stay away from the TV. Listen to music or do not listen to music. Stop checking your notifications every minute. Quit chatting while studying. Put your phone on silent mode. Instead of working on many tabs, limit to only one or two. Whatever distracts you, as much as possible, get rid of it; if not possible, lessen your exposure to them.

3. Motivate yourself.

In order to increase your motivation, you have to simply ask yourself the question: What motivates you? What is your motive for doing the things on your to do list? 

Those motivations can be as simple as food, an episode of a show you are into, or just having “me” time. Some of your motivations could be the joy of checking off that task on your list or the Bible verse that you have graciously lived by. 

Whether it is as simple as coffee or milk tea or as deep as your life motto, remember that motivating yourself can be a combination of both stimulating your senses or stirring up your soul.  

4. Work when it’s time to work. Rest when it’s time to rest.

As simple as that statement is, let’s be honest, we don’t do that. We cram our way to complete our tasks, but sometimes, we waste our resting time when we’re given the time to rest. So the next day, we lack sleep and will reluctantly do the things we need to do again. And that cycle continues. 

While there are people who find themselves performing better when they procrastinate, we cannot deny the fact that it creates an unhealthy habit that proves difficult to break in the long run. 

Be a good steward of your time. When it’s time to do something, do that something. No to “mamaya na lang” or to “kaya ko namang madaliin eh.” Remember, when you say “mamaya na lang,” the clock doesn’t hit pause and wait for you to be ready.

When it’s time to rest, just rest, please. Don’t waste your sleeping time by watching too many episodes of Kdrama, playing games, or chatting with someone. 

You need to rest and you’ll find yourself more productive and motivated when you allot proper time for resting and working. 

5. Be accountable to a good friend.

Find a good friend, or maybe good friends. Be accountable to them. 

As we were working on our individual final paper last term, I had a group chat with some classmates, which we named “Batch 2021.” We were all in faith that we’ll complete our papers and pass the defense this year. From time to time, we will check on each other’s progress, rant about how challenging it is to finish the paper, and we’ll all end up encouraging one another, saying, “Laban lang!” That kept me from slacking. 

We call that accountability. Find friends you can be accountable to. You can be a good friend to someone, too!

6. Be adaptable.

Not everything will go according to your plan and schedule. So be ready to adjust and adapt whenever there are additional tasks. Yes, kahit di pa tapos yung naunang assignment at yung binabasa mong module.

Control what you can, but be flexible with the things you can’t. Don’t waste too much energy on being stressed with what you can’t control.

7. Pray at all times

This is the most important.

You’ll be needing a lot of strength and grace to make it through each day. The truth is we can never make it on our own. Make time to pray and seek God. Ask for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to help you with your studies. Ask Him for rest and strength. Pray to Him for everything you need.

Kapag tinatamad ka na, pray ka kay God at humingi ka ng lakas. “Lord, tulungan mo akong maging masipag.”

“Lord, kanina pa po ako nagbabasa pero wala pa din po ako maintindihan. Pahingi po ng talino at pang-unawa.” 

“Lord, sunod-sunod ang utos at mga kailangang gawin sa bahay. Tulungan mo ako na matapos ko lahat.”

On a scale of 1–10, with ten being the highest, how motivated and energized are you to do your tasks today? 

If your answer is between 1-5, pray and follow the steps above.

If your answer is 6 and above, thank God and continue doing what needs to be done.

If you need good friends or someone to pray for you, send us a message!




The Author

Ahira Perez-Santelices

Ahira works for the ENC Philippine Office. She loves planning, getting into details, being lost in thoughts, and pondering different ideas. She’s definitely an introvert, but is surprisingly highly sociable. "Come chat with me. I'll be tired later, but it's okay. I enjoy talking about life, work, and Jesus. Just note that I prefer milk tea over coffee.”