I get overwhelmed easily. As a publicist at a leading Los Angeles Public Relations firm whose food and beverage PR roster consists of several category innovating brands, I tend to have a lot on my plate. So much to do, so many things to tackle, why is it all coming at me at once?
I’ve always defined the term ‘overwhelmed’ as having too much to do, but it was recently explained to me that being overwhelmed isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing where to start. This revelation was made clear to me during our recent management retreat where the incredible Productivity Coach and Strategist, Tonya Dalton, enlightened our team with tools to help us tackle our priorities, one prioritized to-do list at a time, so we don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Traditionally when I feel overwhelmed, I put together a trusty to-do list – keeps me organized. Or I used to think it did. My to-do list consisted of randomly scattered items, cluttered and unorganized. It’s no wonder that I got to the end of the day, looked back at the items I so satisfyingly crossed off my list, and still felt overwhelmed.
The overwhelmed feeling comes from a sense of urgency. You’re thinking, “everything on my to-do list is important, everything listed is urgent, where do I start?” How do we effectively organize a to-do list, so we aren’t just tackling the easy stuff first and ignoring the priorities that will eventually help in minimizing the feeling of being overwhelmed?
As Tonya so thoughtfully explained, it’s important to take that long, scattered and unorganized ‘to-do’ list and morph it into a short, focused and organized ‘priority list’. Easy enough, right? But, how do we determine what our priorities are?
What we learned while glamping in the gorgeous El Capitan Canyon is quite simple. All to-do list items are considered ‘urgent’, otherwise they wouldn’t be on your to-do list, so organize your ‘urgent’ items into one of three categories:
Step 1 – Immediate Items. These items are important and urgent. These items usually have a deadline attached and can be eliminated by scheduling. Get those finished and checked off first and move on!
Step 2 – Important Items. These are items that are still important, but not urgent and can be accomplished within your own time frame. You want to be spending a majority of your day tackling this section.
Step 3 – Insignificant Items. These items are unimportant and urgent. These are items that still need to get done but won’t necessarily help you reach your goal.
It may seem tedious but taking the time to properly organize the priorities on your to-do list will leave you feeling accomplished, not overwhelmed. “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” – Mark Twain
Happy To-Do Listing!