Getting Out From Under the Bottomless Todo List

Sometimes life can become rather overwhelming. The todo list can seem to stretch for miles with no apparent way to the bottom of it. The top priority items calling for your attention seem to battle with one another for supremacy and the will to keep going is hard to find; overcome by the constant fear of taking the wrong course and putting your attention into the wrong thing.

In these situations the most important thing you can do is stop. Take a meaningful break and reflect on what is overwhelming you. Stopping can be a challenging thing to do as in these states it often feels like stopping is completely out of the question, not an option you can afford to take. Yet spinning your wheels and working harder instead of smarter is truly the thing that you cannot do.

Get help.

This is one of the easiest and most important steps we can take. The helper can be a trusted friend or mentor, even someone completely unconnected to the domain of your challenges can help you centre your thoughts and explore new insights just by being a good sounding board or listener. Another point of view will help you put things into perspective.

Make a plan.

It doesn’t have to be a good plan. It’s important to put things onto paper so you can understand their scope. The plan can always be revised or improved upon by others. It’s essential that you start the process of scoping and prioritizing your todo list — even if you had originally gone through this process, if you’re overwhelmed, something has gone wrong in your system and you need to start from a new baseline.

Create a vision for the outcome that you want.

Sometimes I do this for time scales as small as a day or a week. Taking time to articulate what you really want your outcome to be can help you cut through unnecessary tasks in your todo list and focus on the essential.

Trash things you don’t have to do and delegate things other’s can do.

Sometimes it can feel that time is moving too fast to take tasks off your plate or pass them on to another. Be practical with yourself and what is possible. Sometimes even good ideas need to be postponed or abandoned so that you can make room for others that are more important or impactful. Delegation may seem too time consuming or the quality of the outcome may fee like it won’t be up to your personal abilities. Make an economic choice here for what is better for your desired outcome as a whole. Remember someone else doing something at 50% while you focus on another activity is still 150% output.

Get more help.

I can not emphasize enough how essential it is to get good help in everything that you do. Consider simply asking someone “How do you think you can help me?” You might be surprised with what they offer.

Leave a Reply