5 Tips for Tackling An Overwhelming To-Do List
No matter how hard I try, how much I plan, or how well I think things are going, life can all of a sudden become complicated and busy. When that happens, my to-do list gets overwhelming.
As I am writing this, my mind is in a jumble thinking of all the things I have to do because my life has not gone as planned. This is what I’ve been dealing with the last few days:
- My son has been at home from school since last Thursday sick with a fever and respiratory virus that has left him exhausted.
- Because my son has been ill, I’ve got to clean and disinfect his room, bathroom, and sheets.
- My oven quit working and won’t be serviced for two more weeks.
- I’m starting a new Life Coaching Certification class today and have five chapters of a book to read before we meet.
- I needed to come up with a blog post for today (this one).
- I have been behind on my monthly and weekly planning routines.
- Our home is still for sale (yes, no offers!), so we’ve reduced the price which means we should have more lookers soon which means the house needs to be cleaned.
- My car needs an oil change and new tires.
- I have a big project with my part time job that is requiring me to go in on a couple of days I normally wouldn’t work.
Whew! My heart is racing just typing all of these things!
When I was thinking about what to write today I immediately thought of my own overwhelming situation. I knew if I was struggling with an unforeseen busy time in my life, maybe some of you are too.
So, knowing I have a lot to do in the coming weeks, I sat down and made a plan. Here are a few tips I came up with that helped me make a plan and get relief from an overwhelming to-do list:
1) Turn off your phone, computer, tv, etc.
While I was trying to figure out what to do, I kept being distracted by constant emails and messages on my phone. When you really need to get things done you’ve got to minimize the distractions. Constantly checking emails and messages can only add to the tension and it won’t help you to accomplish your tasks.
2) Make a list of what needs to be done in the next week.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we list EVERYTHING that needs to be done no matter the deadline. Paring down my to-do list to just the things that need to be done by Sunday was so much more helpful. It showed me that there weren’t as many critical tasks that had to be done right away. However, making this list did give me direction on how to proceed for the week.
3) Assign tasks to specific days.
Once you know what needs to be done you can assign tasks to specific days. Look at your calendar and make note of any appointments or set times to which you are committed. Then, plug in your tasks around those commitments.
This is what my to-do list and calendar look like for yesterday (Tuesday):
I did not have any appointments yesterday nor did I go to work. I stayed home with my sick son, so that gave me time to get a lot of things done.
4) Get to work!
Once you’ve got a plan, get to work! I know that’s easier said than done, but if you want to move forward and get rid of the anxiety and pressure that comes from an overloaded to-do list, you’ve got to do the work.
5) Assess the rest of the month.
Once you have a plan in place to take care of the immediate and urgent tasks, look over the rest of your month and get a feel for what’s coming up on the calendar and assess any times that may cause you to get overwhelmed again.
I thought that February was pretty low key for me, but after I finished updating my calendar I realized it is going to be much busier than I thought. Here is what my month looks like:
This may not look very busy to you, but I try my best to keep appointments and commitments to a minimum. Not listed on this calendar are the days I work or all the work I do on this blog.
Knowing that I’ve got a busy month ahead, I can spend some time this weekend making a new list of tasks that need to be done and start assigning them to appropriate days.
I hope this has helped you figure out how you can tackle an overwhelming to-do list!