Many of us exist in a near-constant state of overwhelm, where we feel unable to separate what needs to be done now from what needs to be done at some point – or not at all. Here are a few tips to help you make a to do list that will actually work for you:
Make time to plan
This may sound obvious, but many people can be so caught up in 'doing' that they don’t step back and make time to plan properly. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve and when. Identify the tasks that are necessary to get you there. Mark out time each week to review your plan and amend where necessary. Check in each morning so you are clear on the day’s objectives.
It can be hard to take things off your to do list, but by prioritising tasks into levels of importance, you can find clarity about what you should be tackling first; and you may well realise that some things do not need to be done at all.
Even the best laid plans shouldn’t be set in stone. Often life has a way of shaking things up: a new work deadline, or your car breaks down; and suddenly you need to amend your plan to allow time for the unforeseen. Don’t worry, but ask yourself what is essential and what is the worst that can happen if a task is not done when you had hoped.
Have realistic expectations about what you can achieve in the time available. We often underestimate the time required to complete a task. For example, we may have written ‘Buy Susie a birthday present’, which seems simple enough. However, this actually entails: drive to shops, park, browse, buy item, card and wrapping paper, drive home, wrap present, write card, package gift, go to post office, send. Phew! It is only at this moment that the task can be crossed off the list. Having a realistic timescale is essential for you to have an achievable list of jobs.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember to acknowledge the tasks that you have completed rather than just concentrating on what you haven’t managed to do. Remind yourself of what you have achieved, and therefore can achieve in the future, when things are not working out as you would have liked.
If you are feeling overwhelmed give yourself some space, even if that space is only taking a few deep calming breaths. If time allows take a walk outside or have a cup of tea - whatever works for you to give you time to re-centre.
Remember you cannot do everything. There are only 24 hours in the day – and some of them are necessary for sleep and looking after yourself. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by taking on too much, allow yourself to say ‘Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m a bit overstretched at the moment, so I’m going to have to say no for now. Maybe I’ll be able to help another time.’
I'm a Personal Coach who loves finding out about what makes people tick and helping them to make the changes necessary to get to where they want to go.