If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things that you have to do and can’t actually concentrate on doing any of those tasks because your brain keeps coming up with new ones that you can’t forget, you should sit down with a cup of coffee, and go through these simple steps.
1. Catch up on emails
Emails take up a lot of time. I love them, don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly grateful that people can reach me and hire me to do work via email. But someone (I can’t remember who it was) said that emails are like an infinite to-do list that other people control.
So before you do anything else, go through all of your emails. Delete the ones you don’t need, answer the ones that urgently need answering and sort the important ones into folders so that your inbox is empty. An empty inbox is the best feeling ever.
2. Write everything down
Sit down, get a piece of paper and a pen in front of you and just write down everything that pops into your head. All the little things that you feel like you have to do. If you don’t write it down, you’re going to forget. And not having those things written down, is actually a huge part of the reason as to why you are feeling stressed and behind on stuff. You can’t remember it all. So. Write. It. Down. No matter how big or small it is.
Even though it might feel like you have to do a lot of things, the list isn’t infinite. At some point, you’ll run out of things to write down.
If you have a lot of things to do, you can divide them into smaller categories like life, personal, school, work, etc.
3. Re-write to-do list
Look at your to-do list again and decide what you need to do now vs later. Your brain isn’t great at doing this part. It will stress about things that need to be done today and things that need to be done next month.
If you didn’t divide your tasks into categories in step 2, that’s fine. That part is optional. But now that you’re re-writing your to-do list, you are going to have to divide your tasks into three different categories:
- Small tasks that can be done within a few minutes. On this list, you can add things like replying to an email or text, or paying a bill.
- Things that are important, but that don’t really have to be done straight away.
- Things that are urgent. Things with a deadline, like a project that needs to be done by a certain date. Or you have to urgently send an email that’s going to take a bit more time to write.
Once you have these categories, you know what to do. Start with the urgent tasks and maybe mix in some of the smaller ones to keep you motivated. Start at the top of your list and don’t look at the other tasks until you’ve finished the one you started with!