Have you ever felt overwhelmed by too much to do and you didn’t know where to get started?
Or maybe you were working on something and ideas or other tasks started popping into your head.
Maybe you just shut down altogether and started posting on social media or watching TV instead of starting on the tasks rolling around in your head. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, this happens to a lot of people.
Under stress and without a plan, it’s common for people to power down instead of getting things done. But I want you to feel on top of things so you can use your energy to power up, get tasks crossed off your to do list and improve your life balance.
When I’ve felt overwhelmed, I’ve found that getting everything out of my head and onto paper reduced my stress tremendously.
Here’s why — when it’s on paper it helps relieve your brain from the responsibility of trying to hold onto everything.
That’s a lot of responsibility because we usually have a lot rattling around in there.
When it’s in front of you in black and white, you can start evaluating your tasks by their priority levels.
When they’re all just bouncing around in your head, it’s difficult to distinguish which tasks are more important than others.
Picking up milk from the grocery store is floating around right next to writing a blog post and calling new clients. I’m confident two out of three of these tasks come as a higher priority.
But here’s the key-how are you writing your list? Are you using scraps of paper, sticky notes and the back of envelopes? Getting your tasks and ideas out of your head and onto paper is a fantastic first step, but how you do it holds a lot of importance as well.
I want you to use a system that you are naturally comfortable using. Are you a digital person or do you prefer paper and pen?
There’s no wrong answer. The right answer is the one that works for you because you will be able to adopt it easily and stick with it.
If you have to create all new habits right out of the gate, the chances are good you’ll return to the back of envelopes in no time.
Let’s look at a few of the possibilities at your fingertips.
But be sure to think outside of my ideas if you can come up with a solution that works better for you. These suggestions can get you thinking in the right direction.
When I’m working with clients, it’s common for me to see these colorful gems lining the edge of computers, filling bulletin boards or even sticking to walls.
This may seem like a good idea as an eye catcher for reminders, but these little squares quickly become visual clutter. And when you have too many sticky notes vying for your attention, the importance of tasks from one sticky note to another gets lost.
Now, if you just have one or two sticky notes in front of you, it’s probably not a problem.
But if you have too many and it’s time for a change, you can experiment with these ideas.
Toss sticky notes after you complete your task. Don’t let them keep hanging around in your work space.
Streamline your system by keeping notes in just one place-ideas are coming up next.
Recently, I created a notebook with a client for her sticky notes. We used dividers and labeled them with a label maker. She was then able to place her sticky notes in the correct section.
This allowed her to use the sticky notes she so loved but keep them in an organized system that made sense. Examples for categories could be: To Do, Errands, Shopping List and Ideas.
Instead of having little notes all over the place that can easily get lost, keep all of your notes in one place and one place only.
Not three legal pads, just one. Now I don’t like to turn right around and contradict myself, but, if you are involved with different meetings, events, committees, etc., you may want one legal pad for each one so the notes you have coincide with the meeting you’re in.
Be sure to cross things off as you get them done and you can even tear out the pages when they are complete.
This is a great option if you want to have your lists and notes with you on your computer and synced with your phone. A great option is Evernote so your lists and notes will be with you wherever you go and they can be shared right from your phone.
Evernote is great, but there are so many apps out there to choose from.
The concept really isn’t about a specific app as much as it is about finding one that works for you, using it consistently and having confidence in your system.
Don’t let yourself end up with productivity paralysis due to ideas, tasks and to do’s floating around in your head.
Get them out of your brain and into an organized paper system or a digital system so you can be assured that things won’t slip through the cracks, you can prioritize your lists, cross off completed tasks and feel accomplished.