In Dealing with Overwhelm - Part One, we started to break down the ways in which we could deal with overwhelm, so that you can stay on-track and meet your goals. These included recognising the symptoms, acknowledging it for what it is, planning your days in order to reduce it and tips for managing procrastination. This week, we’ll be look at the importance of re-prioritising, chunking things down, and finally revising where you are at this point in time and determining to let go of the things that no longer serve you.
We’re halfway there: see what happens when we put the rest of the steps in place.
Is your plan still appropriate in it’s current form?
Do you need to re-prioritise any of your goals/tasks?
An example of my own re-prioritisation lately is changing my travel plans this year. I’d planned on attending a chanting retreat on the outskirts of Sydney. Then I discovered a Virtual Assistant’s conference is being held just a few weeks later in Melbourne. The conference ties in far better with my plan of catching up with a girlfriend to pick her brain about the not-for-profit venture she’s undertaking and how she went about it for my very own future dream. So it’s off to Melbourne I go instead. Because this trip is longer than the original chanting retreat, I will need to alter scheduling for finishing client work, getting animals cared for, etc.
Do you need to re-prioritise anything in your plan to make your life easier, either now or later in the year?
Eat that elephant
Now that you’re planning list is looking a little more achievable, it’s time to chunk it down. Chunking is a technique similar to the Pomodoro technique. The difference is, instead of designating uniform segments of time and trying to fit your tasks into it, you assign chunks of time according to what task (or part of a task), you need to get done. Aja McClanahan discusses this technique in her article, Time Chunking for Beginners: 6 Tips for Running Your Day Like a Boss.
Don’t forget that you can also chunk your tasks down. You can also group already very small tasks into like-minded tasks, in order to assign the appropriate amount of time to them. A great example of chunking in action is Jurgen Appelo’s description of one of his workdays.
Revise and Let Go
What’s redundant? What can you really do without?
In my plan I have a great list of ‘nice-to-have’s’ that really shouldn’t be there. They involve things like lunch, breakfast, checking email, planning, all of which I do as a matter of routine every.single.day. In reality, all they do is clutter my plan, and contribute to my procrastination. I also have outstanding tasks. I was meant to do them weeks ago, but I just keep adding them to my list every day. Not only have they lost their urgency, but in some cases they were never really that important to start with.....which is why they’re still on my to do list!
It’s important to look at your task list with fresh eyes once in awhile. When we plod on in the same groove day after day, month after month, we often feel that things don’t change at all. In reality they change drastically, but in such small increments that you don’t really notice. Take a look at your life today compared with the life you were leading one or two years ago. I bet there are areas that have changed dramatically.
In my own life, my daughter was just settling into living on campus at Uni. I had my heart in my mouth every time she rang, in case something was wrong. One year on and she’s working a part time job, has moved into a single studio apartment, is taking extra subjects - and is taking it all in her stride. Now, instead of worrying, I am excited to hear from her. Experience has taught me she’s got this, and she’s a capable, amazing and inspiring woman.
My life, too, looks very, very different with beach walks and outings with friends and much more time to myself.
The point is that the things you placed on your task list a couple of months ago and have carried over thinking you’ll get to them eventually may now be irrelevant. It’s important to revise regularly, and let go of stuff that no longer serves you any more. That should definitely be on a task list as a regular item!
Do it Now!
The easiest way to deal with overwhelm is to understand what it feels like when it first starts to take hold. When you can recognise that feeling, you can immediately take action to stop it in it’s tracks. Planning and re-prioritising things you deem important allows you to then chunk the important things down to manageable tasks. Remember, 15 minutes spent on one big task per day helps you to make surprising progress!
Ensure that you set aside a regular time to revise your plans. And let go of those that no longer serve you, instead of postponing them. You will be able to see more clearly what needs doing, without carrying those obsolete tasks around with you like a turtle carts its home from place to place.
Why not sit down right now with a nice cuppa and follow these steps to refine/reduce your to do list? Once you've revised what really needs doing, I’d love to hear how you feel. Has it improved both your enthusiasm and energy levels?
I'd love for you to comment here, or over on our Facebook page, and share what’s worked for you. Come on, let us hear you brag!