Pulling it All Together When Your To-Do List is Out of Control

shutterstock_104804687Perhaps you, like me, are having one of those weeks where your to-do list is OUT. OF. CONTROL.

This week alone, I’ve had over fifty things I needed to accomplish on any given day, and at last count, I was receiving somewhere in the range of 300+ emails a day.

Combine that with coaching clients, meeting with my PR team, meeting with my web designer, taking my daughter to school, and cramming in time with my family whenever I can, and it’s enough to spin anyone into overwhelm.

So how do I handle it?

I’ve got a couple of life-altering strategies that make it all possible. Read on.

1) Pick your “top three” for the day.

I first learned this strategy from Zen Habits, and once I started applying it, it became a game changer. Now, I start every day by identifying the top three things I absolutely must accomplish.

Doing this immediately tells me what’s most important every single day. It also gives me the benefit of knowing at the end of the day that I’ve gotten done what most needed to get done, if nothing else.

Note, however, that this does not mean that you don’t do anything else on the list! In fact, I’ve found that by keeping up this habit daily, I often finish my top three before noon, and then I can get on with the other things on my list that might not be as high-priority.

As a result, this strategy has not only added to my sense of accomplishment every day, but also made me more productive.

2) Focus on one task at a time.

This week in particular, this rule has been my mantra. I do not check Facebook while I am working on the launch of 40 Percent and Rising. I do not answer emails while on the phone with my husband. I do not edit documents from my PR team while checking Twitter.

There’s been a number of recent studies on how multi-tasking is a killer to productivity, and they are worth noting.

Big boosts of focus, for an hour or so at a time, on one major task, have allowed me to get a TON of great work done this week on really important projects in a short span of time. Multi-tasking: farewell.

3) Take a break between projects.

Even if you’re just going to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, or going for a walk around the block, pausing to reset between major projects gives you a chance to reset your brain and prepare for what’s coming next.

4) Don’t neglect your stress management.

This one is REALLY important. I’ve discovered recently that on the days where I drop the ball on my stress management tactics, my productivity plummets.

As a result, even with my to-do list in the state that it’s in right now, I am still taking ten minutes a day every morning to do EFT and a brief meditation.

Know what works to center you when you’re feeling overwhelmed (and I’m not talking about cocktails!), and stick with it. DO NOT neglect those strategies on particularly bad days. They may be the only thing that saves your mind and body from the effects of that day’s stressors.

5) Celebrate your accomplishments.

At the end of each day this week, I’ve been taking a few moments to acknowledge what’s going really, really well right now. It’s a practice I’ve regularly prescribed to my clients as well, and it can make a huge difference in your mindset.

Taking a few moments for gratitude and celebration each day is also remarkably effective in giving you a good reason to keep going– even when you’re tired, beat down, and need a break. Until your workload eases, make sure you are creating a moment every day to appreciate yourself and all that you’re doing.

Goodness knows you deserve it.

Have a great week.

All the best,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Pulling it All Together When Your To-Do List is Out of Control

  1. I think as moms and entrepreneurs, many of us try and multi-task…years ago I remember NPR put out a very interesting post about how detrimental that can be to actually accomplishing anything! I don’t think you can emphasize the importance of point #2 enough…way to go for devoting your complete focus and attention to one thing at a time.

  2. These are great tips! I do most of them except the last one…how sad! It’s funny how I would encourage my clients and my family to do celebrate their successes no matter how small but I just fly right by them. Thanks for this reminder, Elizabeth!

  3. I’ve been working on paring my to-do lists down and have gotten much better about knowing what can get done in a day and what I think I should get done in a day. I love my timer! I set it and when it goes off I know that’s all that is going to happen with that part of my day. 10 minutes a day of social media scheduling vs. a two hour slog that leaves me with a headache.

  4. very very timely for me right now, elizabeth! i just wrote in my morning pages (one of my stress management tools!) that my “to do”s seem rather chaotic right now. i need to pick my top 3 each day (your #1) and focus on one task at a time (your #2). thank you!

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