Do you ever find yourself with a zillion things to do, but you’re so overwhelmed by it all that you don’t seem to be accomplishing much? Even with so much to do, the feeling of overwhelm can sometimes paralyze us so that paradoxically, we don’t get anything done. I feel that way fairly often and I hear about it from nearly all my clients as well.
I have a solution that works every time.
First, take a blank piece of paper and write everything down you need to do. This includes business tasks, personal to-dos, and activities for self-care like a long bath, reading your favorite novel, or getting eight hours sleep. We can’t forget our self-care!
Writing everything down will solve half the problem. By getting it all out of your head and onto the paper, you don’t need to think about everything at once. And you know you won’t forget anything because it’s on the list. You can sort the list by category or by priority if you wish, but it’s not essential to the process.
Then, pick the next thing on this list that you want to do. What is your number one priority to get done right now?
The last step may be the hardest.
Work on that one item you chose to do and don’t think about anything else until it’s done. In our era of multi-tasking and busy-busy, this might be hard for you. If your mind strays to another task, remind yourself that it’s written down and you won’t forget it. Or if it’s something new, write it on your list and put it out of your mind.
Once you’ve finished that task, pick the next one and focus only on it until you’re done. Rinse and repeat.
It’s like what they tell you to do when you meditate. If you start to think about something, acknowledge it and let it go. In fact, this isn’t actually a coincidence. Just as in meditation, we’re striving to become mindful of the moment we’re in and focused only on the now.
OK, maybe you’re thinking this all sounds a little woo-woo for you. Well, to be honest, the whole “mindful of the moment” concept does come from Zen Buddhism. But who cares? It works!
Getting all the clutter out of your head will free up bandwidth to actually accomplish something. And focusing only on the task at hand will create a feeling of calm rather than the chaotic busy-ness you had going on.
Give this technique a try the next time you feel overwhelmed. You’ll get more done and feel calmer doing it.