Sticky notes are great for to-do lists. Not only do you get to cross things off a list, but you get to crumple up the note and toss it in the trash at the end of the day. And it’s oh-so-satisfying to see what you crossed off. But on hectic days it feels like you have no time to tackle one thing on the list, let alone all of them. And that feeling can spiral out until you’re overwhelmed and paralyzed.
With all the things that come up in life, it’s an amazing feeling when you can dust off your hands and call it a job well done. Getting through your to-do list takes the right combination of time management and mental organization. It’s not always straightforward, but it can be done.
Take It One Thing at a Time
The best way to handle a big task is to break it down. Dividing and conquering a big project means you’ll cross more off your list, giving you a sense of real progress and accomplishment. Even if you don’t use project management software, tackling your to-dos one bit at a time shows your progress.
Maybe you run your own business and need to hand in a crucial deliverable to a client by the end of the week. Or you need to reorganize your entire closet before a move. Start with one small part of that big project and tackle it. And when you’re done, cross it off, take a break, and jump onto the next small part. You don’t need to do everything at once — one thing is enough.
Even if you don’t get to everything on the list, you’re still present and in control.
Grounding will not only center you if your to-do list starts to overwhelm you, but it gives you a chance to catch up with yourself too. Taking a few seconds to get back into your own headspace can help make more sense of what seems impossible.
Take a second and get reacquainted with yourself. Take some deep breaths and think about what you’ve got ahead of you. And remember your list isn’t all you’ve got going on in your life. Even if you don’t get to everything on the list, you’re still present and in control.
In a more concrete strategy for your to-dos, you can sync your calendar to give you a big picture of all your commitments. Gmail and Google Calendar can sync up every time you receive a meeting invitation. Once you have your calendars synced, you can share that calendar. If you use Gmail, you can invite family members, friends, or coworkers to view the calendar you’ve made.
If you prefer an old-school approach, a weekly calendar can help you visualize just how busy you really are. These sheets will help you plan things week-by-week, so you can spread out your to-dos over the days. Once you have your time blocked out, you can color-code your calendar so you know what’s most important for the week.
Take 10 Minutes to Get On With Your To-Do List
One of the best ways to get on with your day and list of to-dos it to look it square in the eye. Just taking 10 minutes in your morning to write down what you need to do, what you want to do, and taking a mental inventory of your day will better organize your thoughts. Rather than diving right into work and chores, knowing what tasks you need to accomplish or start on gives you a headstart and can prevent that feeling overwhelming busyness.
Trying to tackle everything at once isn’t effective in the long run. You’re dividing your energies and attention too much to be completing tasks with intention. But dividing and conquering your to-dos makes it easier and stops that overwhelming feeling before it has a chance to pull you in. And even if you don’t make it through your entire list, just getting through one or two items can be satisfying in and of itself. Productivity isn’t a sprint — it’s a marathon.