I’ve been wearing many hats for years now – we all have. I’ve worn the hats of being a violin teacher, a paralegal, a volunteer, an entrepreneur, a dreamer, a freelance writer, a life coach, a yogi in training, an avid runner, a mentor and so on. One problem I’ve faced is an utter and complete sense of being overwhelm by my ever-growing to-do list.
At times, I find myself stuck working on big projects, personal dreams and goals – all at the same time.
Each of these dreams and projects have dozens of to-do items associated with them. Often leaving me wondering –
Where the hell do I even start? Or… How the heck do I even get started?
I’m not perfect and although I coach individuals on clarifying their goals and designing a life they desire – I too struggle from time to time.
But when I am overwhelmed by my to-do list – I have blinders on.
Meaning, everything on my to-do list seems to feel heavy and have equal priority. But that’s where I’m wrong.
When I am overwhelmed I seem to forget that everything that is noted on my to-do list does not have equal priority.
Through the fog of overwhelm I have to remind myself of a very important point –
When I change my priorities – I get to change my life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list that has grown into a slobbery monster that slimes you every time you approach it – Ask yourself the following questions:
1. TIME – How much do I have?
When I’m overwhelmed – I tend to focus on all the things I have to-do. I have to-do this tomorrow, this on the following day, this next weekend and so on.
What I fail to do is realize how much time I have RIGHT NOW.
Ask yourself – How much time do I have to spend right now?
So what if you work your project out of order! If you have 20 minutes – get going and make the most out of the 20 minutes you do have. Have a larger chunk of time? Spend it on a task that will require a larger amount of time. Easy, peasy, breezy.
2. ENERGY – How much do I have?
When you’re stressed and your to-do list isn’t giving you any room for rest – you most likely are running on fumes. Low energy days happen, but what you do on these low energy days is key.
When you realize that you’re having a low energy day – don’t set yourself up for failure. Be productive, but mindful. Meaning, don’t set out to tackle the hardest and lengthiest task on your list. You might be setting yourself up for defeat.
Instead, focus on the energy you do have right now and see what matches that energy on your to-do list. So what if it’s a tiny action item – do it.
We all have ebbs and flows when it comes to energy. We have high energy days, low energy days and days with mixes of both.
Take a moment each day or better yet, in the morning, to check in with yourself to see what kind of energy you have. When you’re aware of the energy you do have – you can better utilize the energy you do have to tackle your to-do list accordingly.
3. How Can I Create a Win?
How can I create a win today? Yes, I know, this sounds corny.
But if you’re tackling a project that requires you to complete many tasks along the way – your mind might be flooded with things such as: I have to-do this, then that, oh wait! I have to-do this first, then I can do that.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
When in doubt – pick one small task that you can accomplish right now or today that will leave you feeling accomplished. Select a task that will push you forward to complete the harder tasks ahead. A task that will give you momentum and energy to motivate you to cross more off your to-do list.
4. Can I Pick One Random Task?
Why yes you can. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed with my to-do list – I freeze.
I mean literally freeze. I don’t do anything. I stop and get stuck in overwhelm. It’s like my mind is paralyzed and I have no idea what to do or I entertain a mindset that finds something else to do. (i.e. cleaning the house, taking a nap, calling a friend for coffee and so on.)
When things feel overwhelming – pull out that monster of a to-do list and pick one random thing. Seriously, give it a try. I mean – at this point – you really have nothing to lose.
Action my friends. Action.
Commit to spending 30 minutes on a random task. Start it and finish it. Just get it done. You may find that when you just start – and set aside the logistics of everything else – you’ll feel productive and a little less overwhelmed.
These are just a few ideas when it comes to your to-do list. Yes, you can research how to better manage your tasks, but do you find yourself doing that instead of working and getting things done? I know I do!
Try one of the four techniques listed above and share your experience in the comments below.
Remember – when in doubt – just act. Go for it, get it done and stop living in your head of overwhelm!
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with your to-do list?
Need a planner to help you manage your to-do list? Check out the Desire Map Planner by Danielle LaPorte. I use this planner and it helps me clarify what’s most important to me and allows me time to check-in with myself each day.