Overwhelm is something we’ve all experienced and a couple weeks ago I was feeling very overwhelmed. I had a long list of goals and tasks to accomplish and the limit of 24 hours a day to work with. It really would have helped if I could have made the day a few hours longer. Since that wasn’t going to happen I needed to figure something else out.
I have a habit of not writing down small tasks that I want to do – the under 10 minute ones. I keep them in my head. When there’s only a couple of them this works out fine, but when there’s several – well, let’s just say my track record is not so good with that. Part of feeling overwhelmed was that I had several of these small tasks floating around in my head.
So, I did something that doesn’t come naturally to me – I stopped. I put the brakes on and stopped. Part of my overwhelmed feeling was that I needed a different way to manage my time and my tasks (I talk about the other part in next week’s Newsletter – sign up for it at the bottom of this post!).
I love productivity systems. I’ve tried a few different things in the past and have some idea of what does and doesn’t work for me. And of course I knew that what I was currently doing wasn’t working any more.
So, I looked at what was and wasn’t working right now and added what did and didn’t work in the past. From there I found something new to me that I’m working with and am modifying it as I go.
Here are the steps I went through:
- Stop and breath!
- Identify the main cause of your overwhelm
- Review what isn’t working and what is
- Review what has worked in the past and what hasn’t
- Use that knowledge to come up with a general idea of what you want to change/modify
- If needed: find tools to support that change/modification
- Make the changes
- Tweak and modify as needed by repeating these steps as often as needed or wanted
I love having items on paper to check off, but keeping my all my tasks in paper form doesn’t work for me. I can’t easily reorganize or sort that way. So, I wanted a digital solution that I can print out. I also know that I want at least 30 minutes, but ideally an hour, of unscheduled time every day. I use that time to take care of the incidental things that pop up, the unanticipated emails that need to be replied to or phone calls to return. And if nothing pops up I have extra down time or task time.
I have lots of other criteria that went into my solution, but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that I’ve found a combination of things that work for me. And if I find something is not working out – I’ll tweak and modify some more. This process took place over the course of a couple of days and it’s a time commitment that will pay dividends!