How to stop being busy and start getting stuff done: Simplify your to-do list to stop feeling overwhelmed and start moving towards your goals. 💃🤩💃🤩
It is easy to get overwhelmed with long to do lists, huge workloads, looking fabulous, posting something cool/ meaningful/ funny once in a while, spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, did I mention work? You get the idea; our lives are filled to the brim and often we get to the end of a crazy-busy week only to find that a couple of the most important tasks had been left behind.
This is not the best feeling. You feel defeated and as if you’re not moving forward. I know just how demotivating this can be. In fact, on a few occasions last year I became so overwhelmed that I felt paralyzed to do anything and I would spend entire afternoons watching TV while thinking about, wait for it…. my to-do list 🤦♀️.
I couldn’t snap out of it. Towards the end of that year, I realized why (and it wasn’t because I was lazy.) I was so stuck in the details that I was unable to pull myself out long enough to see the big picture. Once I did, I could prioritize, make clear decisions and my days started feeling far less hectic.
The weird thing about overwhelm is that you don’t need to be working 5 jobs to feel this way. It can creep in whether you have 3 or 500 tasks on your plate. Its less about the list, your management tools, and your work ethic and it’s all about mindset. So, no matter where you are, if you are feeling too busy and struggling to get through your tasks, try these steps to clear up space in your mind and your calendar:
Simplify, eliminate, align
Stop being busy for busy’s sake:
How many of your daily tasks actually move you forward? Really? How many are really just there to fill up the day? Don’t answer too quickly. When you have a minute, go and look at your lists from the last few days and check for the following:
- Which items actually made a difference to the next day?
- Which items took you a step closer to your big goal?
- Which items are left undone?
If you are feeling like you’re not getting through your day, you probably noticed that it’s the big important tasks (the ones that move your forward) that get left behind. Now, review your lists one more time and ask the following:
- Which items took a lot of time and felt frustrating?
- Which items were completed but had little impact?
Chance are there are a few overlaps here. These time-consuming-and-low-impact tasks are the ones you need to question. Are they worth it? Or can you drop them and never add them to another to do list ever again? If you do drop them, how much time will that give you and will that time be enough to get through the big important tasks that have been waiting for your attention?
Outsource whatever you can:
There will always be a selection of tasks that do move you forward but take too much of your time. Make a plan and align financial goals to outsourcing these tasks. When you hit a certain revenue mark, you will outsource your social media scheduling or administration. Whatever doesn’t feed your joy but must be done, must be outsourced. While it may feel scary to hand over part of our list to someone else, it will free you up to reach your goals faster and spend more time doing what you love.
Set goals – where are you going?
Another common reason for feeling overwhelmed or like you’re not getting anywhere is that you don’t have anything to measure and so it all feels like “failure.” Not ideal. Instead, think about where you want to be in 3, 6 or 12 months from now. Set one or two goals for this and then make sure that every week contains a smaller action step that moves you towards those goals.
Assign time for everything – macro and daily level
This particular perspective-shift saved me. I was constantly running, chasing the clock and believing there simply wasn’t enough time. When I stopped and took a step back, I could see time as pockets that I can fill however I want. I have larger pockets for months or weeks and smaller pockets for daily tasks. Each night I fill my time pockets for the next day. If anything is left over once the time pockets are filled, I need to make some choices about what is getting left behind.
If you have a lot of goals for the year, this is an ideal way of approaching time. You don’t need to do everything in the first month. You can assign space and time for every goal at a certain point throughout the year. This practice has made me 100% more productive with fewer items on my lists.
Simplify your tools:
When it comes to time/ project management tools, there are about 100 000 available but don’t get sucked in. Keep it simple. There is no point in spending half an hour trying to manage your time management tool. I understand if you are part of a team and everyone needs to be on the same page but keep that tool top-level. Work with people who are responsible and then choose to trust them to get the tasks done. For your daily management, use a simpler tool to track your tasks. I use the Reminders tool on Mac OS. I have a list for each project I am working on. This is where I store the full list of items associated with the project. Then I have a Today list. Here I drag ONLY what needs to happen today. Nothing else. As its done, I mark it complete and I never see it again. At the end of the day, I run through my projects and fill the Today list for tomorrow. It’s not groundbreaking and that’s why it works.
Make conscious choices:
Consider for a moment that whatever you are doing at any given moment is using time. If its something that adds value to your life, then its time well spent. If not, what could you be doing instead? Spend your time surrounding yourself with work, activities, people and social situations that bring joy and add value to your world.
Now, I realize I’ve just gone and added a bunch of organizing tasks to your already overflowing cup. Don’t worry, no need to get it all done today. Your next right move is to take 15minutes today to simplify and re-prioritize your week. (Just this one, that you’re in right now.) As part of this week’s list, assign 1 hour to do the same for the next 3 months.
Simple right? Haha 😜! Even with all of these tools, sometimes we lose control, all the balls drop, and we start to spiral. When that does happen, and you start to feel yourself losing grip, STOP. Right there, where you are, just stop. Take a few deep breaths and then ask yourself: Is this helping or hurting me? Chances aren’t great it’s helping, right? From that place of clarity and space, ask yourself: What’s the next right move? Every time you practice this quick tip, you condition your brain, training it to notice these feelings sooner next time. Soon, you’ll be able to notice those familiar feelings very early on. This means you can stop earlier, recover faster, and get on with living your fab life without skipping a beat. 💃💃💃 No need to get to the breakdown.
Finding the right balance is not one size fits all. Your priorities are different from mine and from your friends. Finding balance is about knowing who you are, what you want and what you are willing to do to get there. When you get that ratio right, work won’t feel like work, it will feel like purpose and quality time won’t feel like you’re cheating on your business, but much required rest. There is time for everything you want to do, you simply need to be bold enough to make conscious choices for what you really want to include in your life.
Author, Annie Dillard said, ‘How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.’ With that in mind, how are you spending today?
Post a comment here or tag me on Instagram @bloomhabits with your new and improved to-do lists. Let me when you’ve cleared all your tasks for the day and you’re going for a manicure to spoil yourself. I want to celebrate with you!! 🤩👑🙌
Live happy, be happy. Live a life you love. 💜💜💜
The biggest reason we become overwhelmed and burnt out by our business, our health goals, and other life expectations, is that we place too much focus on the future. Rather than doing what needs to be done today, we worry about the list for tomorrow, which results in little or no progress at all; and spirals into limiting or unkind thoughts about ourselves and what we’re capable of.
Here are a few tools to help you avoid the future trap and step into your NOW:
First: Break down your Year
Perhaps you have a goal or outcome set for the year? You’ve listed the steps required to reach this goal, but about a week (or a month) into the year, things get fuzzy. You start feeling anxious about your ability to achieve this goal, feel unsure of what step to do first and start seeing everything as “urgent!” If this sounds like you and you’re ready for less overwhelm, why not try this:
- Write down the full list of steps to achieve your goal or to reach your outcome.
- Next, to that, note how much time you will need for each task.
- Now, rank your tasks in the order they need to be completed.
- Finally, add your tasks to your calendar in order and with enough time to complete.
Let each task have its own space. In this way, you can fully dedicate your time to each step, with the comfort of knowing that everything else will get done in due course.
Second: Prioritize the excess
No matter how hard we try, sometimes we just don’t tick everything off our to-do list and it rolls over to the next day or next week. This causes lists that are way too long and far too cluttered, but before you scrap your list and attempt to start again, go through each item and ask:
- Has “not doing” this item held me back from moving towards my goal?
- What would happen if I simply removed this item from the list?
Your answers reveal the importance of each task on your list. If the item is critical in moving you closer to your goal, commit to a deadline and get it done. If, however, the task carries little or no tangible impact on your success, perhaps you can remove it altogether? Declutter your to-do list to make space for the important, forward-moving tasks.
Remember that busy work distracts you from getting ahead. Doing more is not the same as moving forward.
Third: Give yourself enough time
While close to 90% of “overnight successes” say that they achieved their goals with slow, systematic progress, we continue to rush outcomes, strive for instant results and add unnecessary pressure with unrealistic deadlines. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be ambitious or dream big. I’m simply suggesting that you create the space to truly dedicate yourself to your goals and that you do so without hurting yourself in the process.
Giving yourself enough time doesn’t take away from the achievement. You do not need to get there today or this year. Take your time and make sure you keep moving forward, without burning out and losing more time as a result.
The formula is simple: create enough space for everything and then commit to focusing on the next right step. Trust that you have it under control and that each bit of progress is an achievement in and of itself. Stop chasing and transform your schedule from a race into a calm, yet exciting plan-of-action that is perfectly crafted to get you to your goal.
The other day I watched a webinar hosted by one of my heroines. I adore everything she does, from her books to her emails, to her courses. (I am such a fan.) I signed up the second I saw the ad for her free Master Class and stayed up to attend the live event late that night.
I knew this call would include an offer at the end, but I was fine with that, as I had actually purchased her entry-level manifesting course a little more than a year ago and loved it. In fact, I have planned to revisit the course later this month.
As expected, she didn’t disappoint. I immediately felt the same admiration, joy, and eagerness to grow. The content was life-affirming. In fact, her three solutions for a “breakthrough year,” were almost identical to my top three goals (not kidding!)
Hers: Back to basics
Mine: Keep it simple and focused
Hers: Know thy self
Mine: Grow within my spiritual practice and get closer to my truth
Hers: Find your tribe
Mine: Grow my tribe of spiritually curious, “personal development junkie,” entrepreneurial ladies.
Weird right? I was definitely feeling inspired. As she continued her class, all the concepts and proposed outcomes aligned beautifully to the course-on-offer, and since I was in the same mental space, I instinctively felt this would be an incredible opportunity for me. A chance to be a part of a great community, peel back a few more of my layers and learn some new tools.
Then she mentioned a payment plan and I became really excited, as I knew I could make it work financially. It was hitting all of the boxes, but then… (Yes, there’s a “but.”) I noticed a couple of sneaky fear feelings perk up. “Will you have the time?” being the primary culprit.
At first, I fought this feeling: “Just go for it,” I told myself, “Make the leap and you’ll find a way to make it work!” I probably could find time somewhere, give up something else and dedicate the next few weeks to this course.
But when I thought a little further, mentally searching for a small crack of time I could exploit, I realized how much I have going on: I currently have a job, freelance here and there, and run Bloom. My professional life is pretty full, very focused and it bleeds into most of my time.
As she started fielding some Q&A’s, I reflected back on an earlier portion of the webinar where she spoke about the mistakes that she, and many women in her community, had made the previous year. Some of these included, “taking on too many projects,” “becoming distracted,” “over-extending yourself” and “losing focus.” This wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I tend to suffer quite severely from “Shiny Object Syndrome 😜,” and while I love to plan and make lists, I sometimes struggle to execute and follow through.
That’s when I had my “aha moment”: My concern was not because of a money block or Fear peaking its ugly head. This was my inner guide saying, “Hey lady, you’re on a pretty focused path here, do you really need this extra work?” This nurturing source of knowledge was trying to show me that I had a good thing going and that the resources to achieve my goals were already in place. Check it out:
Goal 1: Keep it simple and focused:
I simplified my business model and planned my year out in advance. I am busy executing my to-do list and taking action – so, it’s working. Plus, revisiting my Manifesting course would help me declutter further and stay focused.
Goal 2: Grow within my spiritual practice and get closer to my truth:
While I had been a little less disciplined with my practice these last few weeks, I am getting back into it. My first meditation of 2018 felt like reconnecting with an old friend. I’m also returning to my beloved yoga practice after the holiday season. All this strengthens my resolve, lifts my energy and allows me to push further.
Goal 3: Grow my tribe of spiritually curious, personal development junkie, entrepreneurial ladies:
Working online, it can’t be much of a surprise that I am a member of 3 or more incredible Facebook groups filled with entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers and students. They are all very responsive, supportive and energizing and all I need to do is get more involved to find a massive network of badass ladies who are taking over the world!
The Universe never fails either. As soon as I decided to “grow my tribe” I started meeting new people and connecting more deeply with people I previously only engaged in small-talk with.
Still not quite convinced that I shouldn’t do the course, I kept pondering as I lay in bed, wide awake. Was it fear trying to hold me back or intuition trying to protect me? In that moment I realized something pretty powerful: I was already on my way towards a Break Through Year! I am 100% happy with where I am and confident that my strategy is taking me to where I want to go. #nodoubt
To be clear, I believe the course I’m passing up on is indeed a phenomenal opportunity and it is not my intention to suggest anything to the contrary. I’m sure that my mindset would grow to new levels if I took it on. In fact, if you are searching for a way to achieve some big goals this year and you are looking for a real, practical and inspirational teacher I recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas and the Money Breakthrough course combo with all my heart. It is just that, right now, I am enjoying the slow and gradual climb in these early stages of my business. I am learning a lot as I grow into my role at my own pace, and I simply don’t have room for more at this time.
When you are presented with an opportunity for your business, a course you’d love to do or a vacation you’ve always dreamed of, allow this post to take the pressure off. If you’re not ready, there is no need to jump and saying no, doesn’t always mean you are giving in to fear. Sometimes saying no, keeps you focused, clear-headed and poised to take on the next opportunity for even greater gains.
If you are sitting with a “should I, shouldn’t I” situation…
Ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right choice for your journey:
- What is the proposed outcome of this offer/ opportunity/ course?
- What do you already have or do that is similar or has the same intention as this new opportunity?
- Will this opportunity add (amplify or focus) or distract (give you more of the same or push you away from your path)?
- Do you have space for this in your life right now?
- What would you potentially need to give up to make space for this new opportunity?
- Is it worth it?
If you should do it, your answers will reveal how to make the most of the opportunity. You’ll know you shouldn’t do it if the opportunity seems to conflict with or distract from what you already have going on. If nothing else, you’ll realize how much you already have at your fingertips.
So, do the course, take the risk and don’t not do something because you’re afraid. Just remember that new is not always better and that you can say no (even to possibly wonderful opportunities) in order protect your journey. Trust in your own knowing of what is right for you.