When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your To-do List, Try This

The last week or two, I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed by my to-do list. On the back of a trans-atlantic trip followed by a brutal round of jet lag, each day has seen me staring down my massive to-do list only to walk away in defeat. 

Usually, my approach is flexible. Because my work is so varied, I have several different categories laid out on a blank sheet of paper where I note what needs to be done for each. Then I choose a few things to do every day that week. Sometimes I’ll batch work, trying to knock out a whole category in one day. Often, I’ll just tackle the most do-able tasks, or the ones that need to be done sooner. Most weeks, this tends to work just fine. This week, it did not. 

Not only was there too much on the page to begin with (a fatal mistake for feeling accomplished), but my real difficulty was that there were too many competing things on the list. Usually one category takes precedence one day, another the next – there’s an ebb and flow that allow for flexibility. This week, there was no natural starting point. Too many things on the to-do list needed doing, all at the same time. I was overwhelmed and paralyzed with the simple decision of where to begin.

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Hurrying

Anne Boegel has a great piece up on time management. Instead of the usual, “here are better ways to save time,” she reflects on the feeling of having more time. Here’s her insight: Hurrying makes you feel hurried.

Isn’t this just a truism? Maybe. But I found myself nodding in agreement, because I’ve spent the last year and half wondering why I’m always slightly annoyed when I have to go anywhere or do anything. Part of it’s London, sure – the crowds, the pollution, the noise.

But part of it is me. Continue Reading