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. 💜💜💜