3 Simple steps to get clarity on your to-do list.
You know you are doing it. You feel it coming on every morning as you sit down at your desk. You start thinking there is too much to do; there is no way you are going to get it all done; you need a clone of yourself if you are ever going to get caught up. You start feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, then you start trying to frantically get it all done while also replying to emails, answering phone calls, and stopping 100 fights between the kids. How do you stop this madness?
Recognize the Problem
The first step is to recognize the problem. Hint: it is not having too much to do. It is the thoughts that you have too much to do. Those thoughts are what make you feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed is what causes you to spin out in frantic, unproductive action. And the unproductive action keeps you from getting the important stuff finished. So, what are your specific thoughts that are causing you to feel overwhelmed? What immediately comes to mind when you wake up in the morning? Or when you sit down to begin working?
Change Those Thoughts
Now that you know the exact thoughts causing you to not get things done, you need to identify what thoughts would help you get things done. You can do this by flipping your current thoughts, or by choosing a feeling that you know would motivate you to start knocking stuff off your to-do list. Maybe the feeling would be confident, courageous, motivated, or powerful. What would you need to think to feel powerful?
Maybe your new thoughts could be: I have plenty of time in the day; every day I have 16 hours to accomplish my tasks; I get to choose how I use my time each day; I am a powerful creator and doer. Which thoughts motivate you?
Now that you are motivated and empowered, let’s help you get those tasks off your to-do list. Take five minutes and list out everything you need to do. What projects do you need to finish? What appointments do you need to set? What emails do you need to send? What ideas have you been working on? What things are you worried about?
Next, go through your list and put an X next to everything that is outside of your control. These are the things that other people are responsible for or that God/the universe are responsible for. You cannot do anything about them. Put a star next to everything that is within your control.
Rewrite all your starred items in priority order. Then go back through your new list and put a time limit next to each of them. Now, pull out your calendar and time-block those items on your calendar in the next week. This is your commitment to yourself to get these things done. You no longer have to waste time and energy by holding this to-do list in your head.