Conquering Your To-Do List without Getting Overwhelmed

Your to-do list is a mile long. You are short on time and overwhelmed about how to get everything done. Sound familiar? Whenever I have many things to do, I am all over the place. I go from one task to the next without completely finishing one, thinking I can multitask, but falling short. In reality, multitasking can cause more distractions, procrastination, and a decrease in the quality of work. While it can be hard to focus on a single task at once, it can be more beneficial and produce higher quality work. Worried about how to get started? Try these tips below to prevent getting overwhelmed.

  1. Decide what to do first and create a priority list. Ask yourself what the most important task you need to accomplish is. Then go from there, while taking things one at a time.
  2. Create a work space with all the supplies needed for working. Keep the area organized and designated only for work. Throw unnecessary items away often. When you sit in this space, your mind has only one goal: get work done.
  3. Use a calendar app or planner to effectively plan out your to-do list. Don’t try to do all the tasks at once or during one day. I have tried to do so and it is very overwhelming. Space out the tasks based on priority. Another strategy is completing the smallest task first, so it makes it seem as if I have gotten something done before taking on the bigger and harder ones. Also, using a planner helps you block out appointments, work, and deadlines. Then, you can schedule the rest of your list around those commitments. Don’t forget to include relaxation and entertainment.
  4. Deal with the tasks now or regret it later. I use the “Two minutes or less” rule. If I can do a task in two minutes or less (hence the name), I go ahead and get it done. Otherwise, it becomes a burden and I wish I had already done it.
  5. Set up a filing, organizational system. The world hasn’t gone all paperless. Create a system for items that need to get done, have been done, etc. Whatever works best for you. Other ideas include using highlighters, sticky pads, different color pens, etc.
  6. Use timers. You may only have an hour to get something done. Set a timer for that hour and commit to it. Focus solely on that task and you will be surprised the amount of work you can get done.
  7. Overestimate the time you will need to accomplish something. I am bad at estimating how much time it will take me to get something done and then I get behind on my schedule, especially when I have tons to do. Allow for a cushion of time. If you think something is going to take only thirty minutes, tack on ten more minutes to be on the safe side.
  8. Plan ahead and often. This is another benefit of using a planner. Creating a calendar system will allow you to see what is on the horizon and will need to be accomplished. You won’t be blindsided and become stressed about an unexpected to-do item.
  9. Learn to say no. Unfortunately, you may have to push back some things or completely take them off your to-do list. You also may have to say no to new tasks that may come along. Don’t be ashamed to say no. It will be okay. People can only handle and do so much; understand your boundaries and hold firm to them.

There are times when our to-do lists are a bit too much to handle. When things are busy, we can get overwhelmed. However, we can minimize these stressors by organizing our priorities, sticking to a single task at once, and setting aside the needed time.


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