Make a To-Do List
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do? Today we’re going to talk about eight ways to work through overwhelm and successfully turn your long to-do list into a list of accomplishments!
One of the first things I do when I just have too much to do is to get all of that overwhelm out of your head and onto paper. I believe I have an amazing memory but if I have too much to do and I don’t write things down, I find that I forget important things on my list!
So first of all, take a few minutes right now and write down absolutely everything that you need to do.
Getting everything out of your head will help to alleviate some of your anxiety.
Writing it all down will also help you be able to get a clearer picture of exactly what needs to be done. And, once it’s all on paper, it makes it a lot easier to be able to prioritize your list in order of importance. It may even help you to see things that can be taken off of your calendar or at least postponed for a while.
So get out your favorite notebook and write all of it down! I’ll give you a few minutes! 🙂 Once you have it on paper, go through the entire thing and prioritize every item. Some things will be more of a priority than others and will be easy to number. Some may be more difficult to prioritize but go ahead and assign each one a number. Again, you might look at a few and decide they don’t need to be on your list.
. It will be a temptation to start with some of the items that are lower down on your list just because they may be easier but we’re trying to help you get everything done and help you alleviate anxiety! As Brian Tracy says, in his book, Eat That Frog, if you eat a live frog first thing each morning, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day! So go ahead and make a commitment to eat a few frogs!
Eliminate Interruptions and Distractions
Now that you have your list and you’ve prioritized it and you’ve made the decision to start with what is truly important, it’s time to get to work.
Post your list where you can see it. There really isn’t a way to truly multi-task so make a decision to eliminate distractions and interruptions. Focus only on one task at a time. Turn off social media, the tv and set your phone to do not disturb if you can. Clean off your work area ahead of time and have the supplies you need ready to go so you won’t have any excuses to not get started.
Just starting sometimes is the hardest part of the process especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. So don’t give yourself the opportunity to get distracted. Set the stage for productivity.
To help with your commitments, set yourself a deadline for when your first project will be completed. Then go through your list and set deadlines for each project.
Make sure you’re being realistic and giving yourself enough time to get everything done. If there is anything you can delegate, then definitely take those things off of your plate and delegate to other people at work and at home.
As you check things off and your list gets smaller, it will help to reduce some of the overwhelm and will give you the momentum to keep making progress.
Try the Pomodoro Method
There are several methods to use as you work to chip away at your long list of things to do. One of the most popular ways to do that is to use the Pomodoro method.
According to Wikipedia, the “Pomodoro Technique… developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s (is a) technique (that) uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato‘, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.”
Just like we said earlier, getting started is more than half the battle. Setting a timer is a signal to your brain that it’s time to get down and get to work and it helps to know that in 25 minutes you can take a short break and then get started again.
Utilize Time Blocking
Time blocking is a way to manage your to-do list. When you practice time blocking, you sit down with your day planner and schedule absolutely everything in your day including your projects, meals, and personal time “in order to better manage time and discover where precious hours are either being wasted or underutilized”.
When you utilize time blocking, you know exactly what you are going to do every hour of your day. For example, you schedule what time you are arriving at work, what time you’re in meetings, what time you’re having lunch and dinner and the time set aside for family and personal activities.
For some people, it takes the stress out of scheduling and reduces the temptation to succumb to distractions.
Set Aside Specific Days for Specific Tasks
If time blocking doesn’t work for you another way to schedule project and activities that you are working on is to set aside specific days for specific projects.
Schedule only meetings on Mondays, research on Tuesdays, writing and record keeping on Wednesday, and so on.
Setting aside entire days for specific tasks allows for more time to get things done and maybe less distracting for you then the Pomodoro method or time blocking.
Schedule Overflow Days
A process that is new to me that may work for you is to set aside overflow days. When you haven’t been able to get everything done, schedule overflow days. Set aside entire days when you don’t normally work like Fridays or Saturdays to complete those things you haven’t been able to get to during your workweek. Knowing you have to time to pick up some of the pieces you haven’t been able to get to, is a great stress reliever and after you have checked several things off of your extra to-do list, you will have a great sense of accomplishment.
Take Consistent Breaks
No matter what method you try that works for you, when you’re in a state of overwhelm, it’s important to give yourself time to breathe. It’s easy to try to push through workdays without taking breaks or stopping to eat meals and sometimes working well into the night.
Even though the pressure is on, taking breaks will help to clear your mind and give your body the rest it needs to start back fresh each morning.
When you’re tired, your productivity is going to rapidly decline.
Write Out A Gratitude List
Sometimes when all of the negative voices in your head are reminding you of everything you need to do and all of the reasons you won’t be able to handle it, you have to stop and remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for.
It also helps to remind yourself of all of the tough times you have worked through in times past and to remind yourself that you are fully able to do it again. Everyone and everything that helped you maneuver the waves of doubt and discouragement before is likely still supporting you and cheering you on.
So, take the time to encourage yourself, count your blessings and remind yourself of how resilient you truly are!
You can work yourself through this time of overwhelm. Try one or all of the suggestions we have discussed and turn your to-do list to your done list!
What have you done in times when you have felt overwhelmed? Do you have some words of wisdom for those who are presently drowning in things to do?