What’s the best action when overwhelmed by too many items on your To-Do list?
I often advise my clients to add this option: Do less.
Their immediate reaction is panic. What? What?! How can I possibly choose ‘Do less’? Are you kidding me? I’ll get even farther behind?
Breathe — Review — Subtract
After reminding them to stop and take a deep breath, I ask them to read me their their To-Do lists.
And I listen. This is what I hear:
- I need to do this.
- I have to do that.
- So and so expects me to start / finish whatever.
- Then there’s this I need to do.
- And, then I still have to do that. It’s been on my list for so long.
And so it goes until they reach the end of their lists. Or I stop them.
Then I remind them that as long as they are using words like “I need to,” “I have to,” “expects me to” they aren’t taking responsibility for themselves or their choices.
Surprised you, didn’t I? 😉
Be honest. You expected me to say: We review the list looking for what really doesn’t need to be done or can be delegated.
And, yes, those things are important.
But here’s the thing. Assuming responsibility for your choices comes first if you truly want to overcome overwhelm and move forward successfully. Without that you’ll remain at the mercy of what you think you “need” or “have” to do, as well as what you think others “expect” you to do.
So first do less worrying and complaining about what you think you need to do, have to do, or believe you are expected to do.
And do more about taking responsibility. If, after careful review you feel the task worthy of you doing it, use words that reflect your commitment.
Here are a few examples:
- Instead of “I need to take the dog to the vet.” say “I choose to take the dog to the vet on Monday.”
- Instead of “I need to sort my photos into albums.” say “I choose to ignore my photos for now. I will re-evalute how important putting them into albums is another time.”
- Instead of “I need to clean out the garage it’s a mess.” say “I feel stressed whenever I look in the garage and see what a mess it is. I am choosing to block out 2 hours on Saturday to tackle the most obvious things to throw out or put in their place. When I complete the 2 hours I will decide if I want to continue another hour. When I stop working on cleaning out the garage on Saturday, I will block out another 2 hour time slot in my planner.”
- Instead of “Frank expects me to finish getting all the paperwork ready for tax time all by myself.” say “I don’t mind helping Frank gather and sort everything needed for our taxes but I don’t like to do it all by myself. I’m choosing to discuss it with him tonight after dinner. Maybe we can decide a time when we can work on it together or at least decide which categories we could handle separately for now.”
- Instead of “Susan expects me to go shopping with her after work on Wednesday.” say “I’m choosing to tell Susan that I’d love to go shopping with her some other time.”
Take a look at your To-Do list.
Not sure? Try taping yourself as you read through your list. What do you hear yourself saying?
What choices will you be making next to your To-Do list?
Share your new to-do’s and mind-set tweaks in the comment section below.
Want some help with that tweaking? Schedule a free 30 minute no-strings attached Discovery Session with me (Kat) today. I’ve opened up several extra spots for the next few weeks. Click here now.