If you are like most people, you have discovered there are more things to do than time available to do them. Not only on a day to day basis but also week to week, month to month and year to year. The reality is you will always have far more to do than time available to do it.
We have our regular work to do — reply to client emails, write the report, prepare and deliver the presentation, prepare the designs for the autumn/winter collection etc. And then we have our regular personal errands to do — grocery shopping, cleaning the house, planning our Summer holiday and spending time with our friends. It never stops and it can feel overwhelming.
With all this stuff to do, if we do take some time out and try and get some rest we feel guilty and unproductive and begin to wish we were “more productive” or better at “managing our time”.
This is just a fact of life. We do have far more to do than time available to do it and the way to get all this stuff under control is to accept that your time is limited and become more selective about what you spend your time doing.
Each day, you get twenty-four hours — or 1,440 minutes. That’s the same for everyone. What you do with that time is up to you. If you decided to contract with a company to spend eight of those hours, Monday to Friday doing work for them, then for eight of those twenty-four hours you do the work assigned to you by that company. If you use some of those eight hours to chat with your coworkers about your weekend, order a new jacket online and chat with your friends through instant messaging, you are not doing the work assigned to you by the company. You will naturally find you don’t have enough time to complete the work assigned to you in those eight hours and as you ‘borrowed’ time from the company to do personal things, it means you will need to pay back that time from your personal time. All of these ‘extracurricular’ activities add up leaving us feeling rushed, overworked and overwhelmed.
One of the best ways to get things under control and to feel less overwhelmed and stressed about the work you have to do is to write down everything you have to do. This externalises the things you have to do and when you see those tasks written down you will immediately feel a sense of relief. Our brain is terrible at storing things to do because it keeps reminding us to do them at the most inappropriate time. You could be out on a date night with your partner, enjoying a gorgeous sunset with a nice glass of wine and your brain reminds you of the presentation you have to do on Monday. Or you could be in the middle of a job interview and your brain reminds you to make a dentist’s appointment. Your brain just does not understand the context. All it knows is you need to remember something and it will remind you whenever it has that thought.
When you start collecting all your ideas, tasks and events into a trusted place — a to-do list manager, notes app or notebook — your brain relaxes. It stops reminding you to do things at the wrong time and it starts to work for you by being creative. This transition does not happen immediately, but as you develop the habit of collecting stuff, you begin to trust your ‘system’ and your brain relaxes. It’s a simple change that will give you huge results.
The very act of writing down what you have to do in a clear, concise way relieves your brain from having to remember to do something. When your brain no longer has to remember everything it quietens down. It now has space to develop ideas, solve problems, be creative and be present to enjoy the scenery, the people you are with and the environment. You no longer feel overwhelmed because everything you have to do is written down in a place you trust.
When you begin organising your list of to-dos and ideas and making decisions about when you will do them your feeling of overwhelm and stress will begin to reduce. Part of the reason we feel stressed and overwhelmed is that long list of things we have to do has not been evaluated and assigned a time to be done. This is where the power of your calendar comes in. You don’t have to micro-manage your calendar, you just need to assign periods of time to do the things you need to do. Saturday afternoon between 1 pm and 3 pm could be assigned for cleaning your house. Friday night could be assigned for meeting up with your friends. Monday morning between 8:30 am and 10:00 am could be assigned for working on your presentation. You get to choose. When you bring the power of collecting, organising and doing together into a fluid system, amazing things begin to happen to your wellbeing and overall feeling of control.
Your stress is really caused by the feeling of being out of control not the long list of things to do. We all have a long list of things to do. The problem is you have no idea exactly what needs to be done and how you will find the time to do it. When you do get those elements under control by collecting all your commitments and to-dos into a trusted system, organising those commitments and to-dos in a way that gives you the time to complete them you soon feel more relaxed and in control. Your decision making becomes easier because you know exactly what you have to do and when you will do it and almost all areas of your life improve. You are more relaxed, more engaged and more disciplined and because these areas of your life improve so do your relationships because you are much more connected in the moment and not worrying about what you have to do and how you are going to find the time to do it.
This is a simple change, but one with huge benefits. It does not take long to develop the habit of collecting everything into a trusted place, and spending a few minutes at the end of the day organising what you collected so you assign time to do them. When you start doing this you brain is released from the burden of trying to remember everything and when that happens it starts to work with you instead of against you.
If you have never tried this before, I have a FREE online course you may wish to take that will give you the know-how and skills to create a system that works for you so you can start to get control of your life and unburden your brain and feel a lot less stressed and overwhelmed.
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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
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