What To Do When You Have Too Much To Do
Alright, friends. It’s no secret that I’ve been neglecting this little space of mine on the internet for the past month. Not only have I been experiencing a slight lack of motivation in the writing department, I’ve been trying to deal with the overwhelm that comes from juggling a full time job, blogging, grad school, and having a personal life.
I never expected it to be easy to manage all of these things at once, but I also didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmed that I’d feel the need to crawl up in a ball and ignore all of my responsibilities.
I’m sure you’ve been in or are currently in a similar situation where things just keep piling up, and you have absolutely no idea where to start…so you just put it all off and procrastinate.
And what happens when you procrastinate? You end up completely frustrated with yourself.
Even though I know all of this combined is getting me closer to where I’m supposed to be in life (as unsure as I am about where exactly that is anyway), it can be really tricky to maintain perspective and avoid getting caught up in the details when things aren’t going smoothly.
Though I’m still learning how to balance everything myself and I haven’t perfected the art (let’s be real, there is no such thing as the perfect balance), I’ve found that there are some methods that can help us stay on top when it all becomes too much.
5 Ways To Deal When You Have Too Much To Do
1. Write Down Every Little Thing
Instead of letting things just float around your head and trying to convince yourself that you’ll remember them all, grab a piece of paper and just brain dump everything onto it. Big projects, small errands – write down every little thing that comes to mind.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll either a) realize you don’t actually have as much to do as you thought, or b) you’ll see that some things just aren’t as important compared to other things.
2. Break Bigger Tasks Up
If you have something on your list such as ‘write a blog post’, think about how you can break down the larger project into smaller steps. For example, you probably need to brainstorm some ideas and come up with an outline before you can actually start working on a blog post.
Even if this seems like you’re adding more to your to-do list, breaking projects up means they’re going to be much more manageable, and you’ll feel like you’re making progress by checking even one little thing off.
3. Figure Out How Much Focus Is Needed
After you’ve done your brain dump of tasks, take a look at how much focus you think each item will require. Tasks such as writing can usually be done in chunks over the course of the week, some tasks like watching a lecture might need your full attention for an hour or so, and things like responding to emails are best done in one quick session to get them over with (and probably don’t take that long). Here’s how I look at time distribution:
- Multiple sessions – writing, data entry
- Block of time – lectures, brainstorming, homework
- One quick swoop – emails, phone calls, clean up
4. Prioritize & Combine Similar Tasks
When you take a look at your (possibly) endless list, start by seeing if there’s anything you can say no to or delegate to someone else. Maybe there’s something that just doesn’t seem to be necessary anymore once you’ve actually taken a look at what’s on your plate. Get rid of that shit. Do it.
Next, ask yourself what the top 3 most important projects or tasks are on your list. You may be thinking, ‘Well everything is important, Catherine’ but girllll, you need to start prioritizing if anything’s ever gonna get done.
It also helps to think about which items fall under the same category or can be done in the same state of mind (aka when you need to focus intensely vs. when you can have music on in the background)? Are there any smaller sets of tasks that you can combine into an hour and knock them all out?
5. Schedule It and/or Get To Work
For any tasks that can be broken up into chunks, choose a few days of the week and pencil them in. If it’s something that needs a big hunk of your time and total concentration, make sure you fit it into your schedule and treat it like an appointment. Lastly, if it’s something like responding to emails and general admin work, save it for a time when you aren’t feeling creative (usually in the afternoon) and get it out of the way.
And sometimes planning stuff takes away from time you should actually just be gettin’ shit done, so make sure you aren’t using your planner as a procrastination tool. The secret of getting ahead is to just get started, yo!
How do you stay sane when life gets overwhelming? Share any tips you have below!