How long is your to-do list? Some days that list can feel endless, like no matter how much you do, the tasks keep piling on and the list getting longer and longer.
It’s not like we don’t want to get everything done. Ticking off everything on your to-do list sends your brain the same satisfaction as the woosh of an email or finally reaching inbox zero.
Often we get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget exactly why we’re completing each task. Our threshold for juggling all-the-things expands until we’re stretched thin. We say yes to so many things until our to-do list is ceiling high and the pressure to get it all done is consuming. Hello burn-out. We’re exhausted by the never-ending list and fed-up from juggling it all at once.
Luckily, there is a way to escape from the soul-crushing feeling of not-enoughness that comes from feeling like you don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish all your tasks. You can actually train your mind to rethink your priorities, shift your perspective, and instantly reduce your overwhelm.
Six Ways to Reduce Overwhelm and Feel More Productive
1. Stop Multi-Tasking and Start Single-Tasking
Have you ever gone into a room for something and then stopped to wonder why? Your mind suddenly blank, you know there was something you were after… but what the heck was it? If you have these moments more than you’d like, you might be experiencing a form of mental fatigue.
Psychologists have determined that it’s physically impossible for human beings to multitask. What is perceived as multitasking is different brain sections taking turns to complete different tasks, and that can become mentally taxing. The mental effort it takes to switch between tasks can add to emotional exhaustion, confusion, and time taxing.
Consciously choosing to do one thing for a certain period rather than flicking between tasks will help you feel more at ease, and give your poor brain a rest from constantly flicking back and forth like a game of mental hopscotch. One task at a time, and then move on to the next.
2. Reframe Your Mindset
Instead of thinking of all of the things you “have” to do, start thinking of the things you “get” to do. This simple shift in your thinking encourages gratitude. By considering the task an opportunity or a blessing, you appreciate how much you already have rather than focusing on what you still need to do. It’s a gentle reminder that you are always in control of your choices. If something is no longer serving you, find a way to outsource it or delegate.
3. Eat the Frog
We’re all prone to procrastination from time to time, especially when we know there’s a pressing deadline ahead. Does that sock drawer you’ve ignored for months suddenly and desperately need organizing? Or are you putting off working on a project that’s due tomorrow, instead? Instead of distracting yourself with all of the little tasks that keep you busy but may not be necessary, tackle the most urgent and important task first. If you just eat that frog and face the tasks you’ve been dreading, you’ll find you can relieve a tremendous amount of stress and make the remaining list seem like a breeze in comparison. Tackling those big, dreaded tasks first just may inspire you to rethink your remaining list’s relevance.
4. Reconsider Your Priorities
When you look at your to-do list, consider what is urgent, what is essential, and which are both. If something on your to-do list doesn’t fit into these categories, remove it. Watch your list shrink to half its size! Your time is precious, don’t spend it doing minor tasks that have no weight or meaning. Only prioritize that which is urgent and essential, and watch the other irrelevant tasks fall to the wayside. (Sorry sock drawer, not today.)
No one is asking you to be Super Woman, Wonder Woman, or some other fictional do-it-all-yourself heroine. It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, as social creatures, we crave that feeling of doing good for someone else. Examine your list and consider the team around you. Is there something that you can outsource? Who can you ask for help? Whether professionally or personally, there are no prizes for carrying the biggest burden or doing everything all alone.
6. Be Mindful
By saying yes to completing something on your list, you are saying no to doing other more meaningful things.
If you’re still getting an endorphin rush every time you tick things off your to-do list, ask yourself how else you could be spending your time.
By being mindful of each task, you are continually re-evaluating its purpose, appreciating its reason for being, and enjoying the process.
Remember, there’s always an easier way.
Busy is not badge-worthy. There is no gold star for ticking off your list.
By rethinking your to-do list, you may find that you’re more productive, invigorated, and motivated than you thought possible.
Sophie is a powerhouse entrepreneur who walks her talk! Through her Wealthy Woman Mastermind, she supports other female coaches and experts to create freedom in their lives and make a big impact by harnessing their unique skills, gifts, and talents to earn more while working less at rewomen.com.au