From managing motherhood to overseeing a seriously successful business, Meggan Crum knows a thing or two about time—and to-do list—management. She shares her secrets on how to balance work- and home-life, and how she gets it (all) done.

By Rebecca Daly
Updated July 05, 2017
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It’s hard to start your day with a smile when you’re staring at a long list of unpleasant tasks. Sorry to add another list to your notepad, but this one will help you breathe easy. “When everything’s swirling around in your head, you’re likely to act out emotionally,” says Kathleen Hall, stress expert and founder of The Stress Institute and Mindful Living Network. “Start a credit-debit list either on paper or on your computer: On one side, list what gives you joy and energizes you, and on the other, what’s sucking the life out of you?” The key, Hall says, is to find balance in your day: Sure, you have to drop off the dry cleaning, but why not take the route that passes by the house with that gorgeous rose garden?If the sheer volume of tasks overwhelms you, think about what can be reasonably crossed off the list. Carr promises more can be cut than you might think. “What’s low-priority?” she says. “If you don’t volunteer, for example, what’s the worst that will happen? Follow the scenario to its likely conclusion, and it’s most likely a consequence you can live with.”
Jamie Grill/Getty Images
Courtesy Meggan Crum

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Previous to her current role as the fashion and content director of Stitch Fix, the well-loved subscription service that helps customers expertly curate their own wardrobes, Crum was a fashion editor at both W and InStyle magazines. “I’m definitely a deadline-driven person. Being an editor in New York for 15 years—you have to be!” she says. “Whether it’s at work or at home, I love to organize myself and give myself deadlines. It’s the only way I get things done!”

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While the idea of setting a deadline is all well and good, it’s also important to organize them so you’re not overloading yourself. “I’ve become obsessed with setting aside time blocks in my calendar each day to get things done,” says Crum. “I organize my calendar with a set to-do list so I know I’m not taking on too much and can accomplish those things on that day.”

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If you’re not the to-do list type, the idea of creating one, let alone color-coding it, may sound a little Type A. But it’s actually quite useful. “Not only do I keep a running to-do list that I’m extremely diligent about keeping up-to-date,” explains Crum, “I also color-coordinate my priorities via colorful Post-Its. If it’s orange or yellow, I know it’s high priority. That acts as not only an important mental signal, but it also keeps my attention focused on what really needs to get accomplished right away.”

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While it can be tempting to write a list a mile long with every little thing you know you need to accomplish in the near future, that can actually be counter-productive to getting any of it done—you’ll just feel overwhelmed. Instead Crum suggests breaking it down into bite-sized pieces. “I stay on track and focused on crossing things off my list every day by blocking out things I know I can accomplish within a 30 or 60 minute period.”

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If you’ve found that a particular method of efficiently accomplishing tasks works well for you in the office, implement that strategy with your at-home to-do list, too, suggests Crum: “I’ve found that approaching my priorities at home as I do at work is actually super helpful and successful for me.”