“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin”
Everyone gets overwhelmed from time to time. There might be an illness to take care of, a car problem to fix, or some other unexpected incident that throws us off our regular routine. When all the work piles up it can feel quite stressful and chaotic. Getting overwhelmed is normal and it’s helpful to know how to go from being overwhelmed to organized. Let’s look over a few tips on how to control our situation before our situation controls us.
Write a to-do list
When I feel overwhelmed it’s stressful to try and remember everything I have to do and make sure I am not forgetting anything important. By writing all my tasks on a to-do list I don’t have to worry about remembering them anymore. If there are any additional details I would like to write down about any tasks I write that down too. This helps me see what tasks I have to work on, gaining a better perspective of my workload. Now I am able to work on my tasks without having to think about the other items on my list. Some people prefer to write their to-do list on a piece of paper while others prefer to write it on their smartphone. Choose whatever option works best for you and keep it handy as you go through your to-do list so you can add any additional notes that come to mind.
Prioritize your tasks
If you write down all of your tasks you will find out that some are more important than others. Organize the tasks on your list so the most important tasks are on top while the tasks that are not as important are further down the list. If you would like a more structured system you can use Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which helps label the task into one of four categories: important and urgent, important and not urgent, urgent and not important, not important and not urgent. If you are using the decision matrix complete the tasks in the first quadrant, important and urgent, before moving onto the other three in the order listed. By prioritizing tasks you can make sure the important work gets done even when distractions come along.
Three at a time
Looking at a huge to-do list can be discouraging. I suggest taking the three most important items from your original list and putting them on a new list. When you only see three items on a list, it’s much more manageable and motivating. Once those three tasks are completed, put the next three most important tasks on the list and continue this pattern until you are done.
Organizing is important, but make sure it doesn’t get used as a way to procrastinate. Distractions are more tempting when you are overwhelmed, but in order to finish the tasks on the to-do list staying focused is essential. Clear the workspace so that there is nothing on there except the items that are essential for the current task. Turn all notification sounds and icons off on your devices. Instead of trying to multi-task, only work on one task at a time. Put all of your attention and energy into that task for best results.
Being overwhelmed can be frustrating, but we don’t have to stay frustrated. The simple act of organizing our workflow can provide a great sense of calm and control over the situation. When the list is organized start working on it little by little. As time passes the original to-do list will get shorter. Don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate. Keep going and watch your success grow.
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