If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed as you go about your work each day, there’s a good chance you’re aiming for a perfect state, a goal of ‘having everything done’.
This is a mythical state that can never exist in real life.
Unless you’re a hermit who has eschewed modern life, the reality is that you will never have everything done. There’ll always be more things to do, emails to answer, articles to read, software to upgrade, clutter to clear, etc.
It’s part of the entropy of life that we have to keep working in order to maintain order. You’ll probably lower your stress level immediately just by accepting this reality and not expecting life to be different.
But the fact that you’ll never have everything crossed off your task list doesn’t mean you have to feel overwhelmed.
The answer to overcoming overwhelm is not to rush madly through each day, trying to check as many items off your to-do list as you can.
The answer is to re-think what goes on your to-do list in the first place.
Now this is pretty radical. What I’m going to suggest you do to your to-do list can so increase your productivity and so reduce your overwhelm, as to feel almost magical.
The Magical To-Do List That Overcomes Overwhelm
Here’s how you create your daily to-do list.
1. Each day, choose your 3 most important tasks.
That’s right – only 3.
They could be anything – spending time with your kids, drafting the newsletter, making a call you’ve been putting off, outlining a proposal, asking your boss for a promotion, leaving work on time and going to the gym, getting your hair cut so you feel confident, etc.
But they must be the 3 tasks that contribute most to your top priorities.
For instance, my list for today is:
- Write a blog post – this one! (contributes to my goal of providing good, regular content)
- Finish making notes on two of the research books I’m using for a new product I’m working on (contributes to my goal of creating new products)
- Do an exercise class (contributes to my goal of working out 5 or 6 times each week).
Doesn’t matter how long a task has been on your list – if it’s not in the top 3 things you can do today to move forward on your goals, it doesn’t get on today’s list.
2. Do these tasks first.
You might have meetings, kiddie drop-offs, or other non-discretionary ways you have to spend your time each day, but when you get to choose what to do, choose one of the 3 items on your list. Then choose the next one, and the next.
Only do additional tasks if you complete your top 3.
Increase Productivity, Boost Confidence, Reduce Overwhelm
This approach will transform your work day and your life.
- By letting your top goals and priorities direct the way you spend your time, you’ll make the best use of your motivation, energy and passion, and this will increase your productivity.
- By getting the most important things done each and every day, you’ll also build a sense of self-mastery and achievement, and you’ll feel more confident.
- And by keeping your focus on those top 3 tasks, you’ll feel more in control and avoid overwhelm, burnout and stress.
Over time, you’ll get more done this way, and enjoy yourself more.
Try it – and let me know how it works for you!