You know that feeling, you’re sitting at your desk trying to get stuff done but you don’t really get anything done at all? You wonder why that is, you look at your never-ending to-do list and you get that sudden urge to just get up and run away?
You have a couple of hours of time available while the kids are at school and daycare and you know you should get so much done, you’ve started the day with the biggest of intention but then this happened… You have no idea where to start and you feel like all you want to do is lay down on the couch, curl up in a ball and go to sleep, maybe the to-do list gets ticked off by itself, right.
Trust me, I’ve been there (and still am) and you’re NOT ALONE!
We have so much on our plate, everyday. Tidying the house, thinking of what to cook for dinner, doing homework with the kids, entertaining them, taking care of ourselves, loving our partners, and on top of it all run our successful businesses. Our to-do lists are truly never ending.
The problem often is that our lists aren’t actually existing lists, they’re only in our head and the way our brains work is when we start one thing all those million of other things start to pop up in there trying to get attention. Concentrating and getting one thing at a time done is hard!
All that – this thought autobahn in our heads – can only lead to one thing: OVERWHELM and that leads as we well know to not getting anything done. Zip, nada, niente! Entering the vicious cycle. That’s not really productive, is it?
So how do we out of this (or even better, not even into it)? Now, I’m sure this might not be the solution for everyone, our situations are unique but I think it might be a good start for a lot of people and will hopefully get you out of the overwhelm trap.
Here is what I do:
1. WRITE IT DOWN!!!
I know, I know, handwritten to-do lists are old-school and there is research that claims they make us less productive blablabla, but you know what? They work! Like crazy they do! This list doesn’t have to be structured at all, as a matter of fact it doesn’t even have to be a list at all. At this initial stage, what we’re trying to accomplish is to get everything out of our head. Writing things down on paper does magic for our headspace and the ability to then concentrate on one thing. So do a proper brain dump, write everything down that you think “needs to be done”. And I mean, everything. Pick up clothes from the dry-cleaner, wipe floor around the toilet, make dentist appointment for child 1, 2 and 3, write marketing plan, schedule social media content for the week, read the smart VA’s new blog post. Write it all down. If you feel at all inclined you can try to sort it on your piece of paper but if you’re anything like me that will soon go out the window and you’ll be grabbing a second piece of paper as you’ll run out of room.
How does that feel? Isn’t that fantastic. When I do this exercise I can literally feel the weight coming off my shoulder, my eyebrows feel freer and there is more “air” in my brain again – bliss.
2. Prioritise it!
The second step in this exercise is to prioritise your tasks and structure them. I’d suggest to split them between personal and business at least. The trap I’d continue to fall into would be that it’s all on one list and when I get time to “do some work” I’d do the personal stuff first and then run out of time to get any business tasks done. Not ideal. Anyway, so within the two lists “personal” and “business” you want to prioritise the tasks from high (needed to be done yesterday) to low (doesn’t actually need to be done but it bugged me anyway).
3. Work it off!
Now you can start working it off. When you get time, or better yet when you schedule your day or week ahead you look at that list and you know exactly what needs to be done. It is uber important that you pick one thing of your list and get that done first. When you do, do nothing else, don’t think of anything else. If you think of other things while trying to concentrate on one thing, write that other thing down and then get back to what you were doing and concentrate on that. Writing that other thing down quickly will again get it out of your head and give you the ability to move on with it.
Don’t fall into the trap. Get organised, get clear and stay on top. Don’t forget though, we do have a lot on our plate and sometimes it’s ok to feel overwhelm. It’s also a sign that it might be too much and we have to listen to that in order to reassess where we’re at and where we’re going. But that’s another story.
Let me know how you get on with staying out of overwhelm.
If you feel like you don’t actually know what you should be working and concentrating on as you don’t really know what you’re working TOWARDS – schedule a 2 hour complimentary session with me and let’s see what we can find.