Getting out of overwhelm

20.07.2012

Have you ever started the day with a list of ‘stuff’ to do and lots of good intentions? It’s a regular feature of my week.

How often do you actually get everything on the list complete by the end of the day? In my case, it’s rare. But that’s because it works for me to have a rather longer than realistic list. And I prioritise my list.

Not everyone works at their best with too much to do, however. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work on your list, here’s something for you to experiment with:

Empty your head of everything you’ve got to do, want to do, need to do, dream of doing. Write it all down.

Next, pull out of the list anything that has a deadline in the next week and put that on a new list. Pick the three most important items on that second list and do them today. When you’re done, stop. Make coffee, go for a walk, read the news or whatever else appeals to you.

Notice how you feel.

Make a plan for tomorrow, and do the same again.

Three things might not seem like very much. If you take it in context with all the ‘noise’ of emails, telephone calls and other interruptions, it can be quite an achievement to complete three tasks. Of course, it depends on the average size of the tasks you have on your list and the amount of email you get.

So, do three things per day for a week and then try four. If that’s still too easy, move up to five. If you’re getting overloaded, drop it down again.

What’s the point? By doing this you’ll get a realistic sense of how much work you can accomplish in a day. How useful would that be?



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