I remember trying to build model cars and planes as a kid and I was never very good at them. I was messy with the glue and even messier with the paint. And there were times that the whole process got so frustrating that I’d have to get help from one of my parents or one of my brothers. And even today I find myself in the middle of projects or trying to get a new project moving forward and I feel completely stuck in the rubble of the mess that I’ve made by letting myself get overwhelmed by the distractions from day to day life.
The longer that I sit and let myself stay stuck in those ruts, the more I get behind on the things that I really need to get done. That’s when I realize that I need to just scrap the mess that I’ve made and start over. Here’s how I do it!
1. Toss Out the Unimportant Things
If there are things distracting you from your priorities then you need to get rid of them, or move them. Don’t put your social media icons on the first page of your smartphone, don’t keep their notifications turned on so that every time someone responds to that memecard about cats and world dominance you instantly find out about it. Save social media for break time. If there are notes and messages that you’ve been holding on to and they’re no longer relevant, throw them out. De-clutter your work space. Give yourself some breathing space!
2. Write Down All the Other Things
Now that you’ve cleared out some of the clutter. Go through everything else and write down everything that needs to be done on one sheet. Don’t worry about order, just get it down. And don’t do any of yet either! Just write it down. This is a process that you’re learning and trust me, the end result isn’t just about getting things done, but about seeing the accomplishments and feeling better about yourself because of it.
3. Prioritize the Things
Now that you have your list of things that need to get done. It’s time to prioritize the list. I like to look at the list from two angles. The first angle is: What things can I do quickly? The other angle is: What things have to be done first? Based on those two angles, I give each item on the list a number and then I move on to the next step.
4. Do the Things
This doesn’t take much explanation. Just start with number one, do it, check it off, then move to the next, repeat. Soon you start sailing through your list and you’re getting more done than you used to in a week.
At the end of the day you probably didn’t complete everything on your list. That’s okay! Or something came up and you had to deal with an emergency and put off your list until that was done. That’s okay too! The next morning, take out your list, look at what you didn’t get done. Add to your list any new items that need to go on there. Re-prioritize your list. Then you have your new starting point.
This is just one of the things that I do, and I actually use the Remember The Milk app on my phone to help me manage my list. But there are other ways that people can manage their workloads and avoid anxiety and getting overwhelmed. I’d like to hear your story or comments below!Edit 5/13/2014: I’ve switched my task app to Nozbe (http://www.nozbe.com). Like RTM, there is a Free version and a Member version. I’m getting along just fine with the free version and really like it’s ease of use. What I like most about it over RTM is that it instantly syncs with my iPhone! Whereas the free version of RTM will only allow for 1 sync per day.