Someone said to me recently that they’d asked their class...
to write down three actions that they would commit to getting done before next time. Most of the students wrote down twenty things. And surprise, surprise, by the next class a large majority of the students hadn’t done any of them. Disappointed, they asked me, ‘What’s happening there?’
Yep, overwhelm, that’s what’s happening. And it’s so common (even I experience it!). This is what happens with ‘master to do lists’. Lists with no anchors. Like those students experienced, being asked to write down three things when there’s more things demanding of their attention makes prioritising very hard.
This is where taking the time to do a structured brain dump is important. Getting everything out of your head with plans of what to do with that list afterwards is key. Check out my Organising Overwhelm resource here for some guidance.
Having a Task Management system is all about getting in a system in place that you trust. So you can keep dumping things into it and then apply scheduling to the list so that you don’t end up with a list a mile long. Take the twenty things conundrum. Those twenty things have been captured. And most of them, it can be assumed, are important in some way. So when will they get done? Take the time to look at that list of twenty and rather than jumping into action, arrange them to be completed on appropriate days.
Wear two hats
At this stage, it’s best to think about removing yourself from the ‘doing’ aspect of the item. Getting into a planning mindset and prioritising those twenty things first means that you can divide them up over the next few weeks. Even if you have something on your list that you know realistically you’re not going to get to till the second week in November. That’s totally fine. Get it into your calendar and forget about it till then.
There’s so much to do these days. So if you can collect and schedule things that you know need to be done, it gives your brain a break. Because you’ve allocated it a dedicated time this lifts the overwhelm and the feeling of “I’m not doing enough, I have no time”.
Put your blinkers on
It also makes the item more concrete. If you attach a time to an action, the doing part of it is half done. The more decisions you can make before stepping into completing the item, the better. Taking things one step at a time and attaching a dedicated scheduled moment to each task helps us keep moving through life’s demands.
In moments of overwhelm, putting blinkers on and focusing on your top three for the day, is a solid plan towards feeling like you are progressing your goals. And your top three can be large items (like write a chapter of a book) or they can be five minute jobs (such as post something on social media) or self-care items (such as getting out for a walk). Whatever is on your list, link them to your bigger goals. Does it further your business? Is it supporting your health? And take satisfaction in ticking them all off. It may just be a nibble of what you have on your plate but they are three things that are helping you towards achieving your goals. And steps add up! So keep going!