A strategy to overcome feeling overwhelmed

432895_ducks_in_a_rowFeeling Overwhelmed? Stressed out about all the things you have to do or want to do?

Here’s a time management strategy to gain control. The strategy is to simply project plan your life. Let me explain, I recently went through a time in my life when I always seemed to feel overwhelmed. I’d wake up in the morning and my first thought was ‘oh no not another day!’ By the evening I felt that I could not even sit and relax, as I had so much to do. The problem was I simply had too many projects, commitments, chores, responsibilities, ideas to take my business forward and dreams on my dream list and not enough hours in the day! I was so overwhelmed that nothing was enjoyable any more. Do you ever feel like that? Maybe you have problems prioritizing or getting things done.

Typically, it becomes harder juggle things when you are starting something new. The new thing you are starting, whatever it is, will be requiring a lot of you. Not only will you be on a steep learning curve, but chances are you will have twice as many things to do than before. You may be starting an organization, inventing something new, getting back on the dating scene, or re-training to change careers. You can’t do something new without getting rid of some of the old. So you need to become a much better planner. Here’s how to start doing that. This has worked for me many times and I used to do this when I worked in marketing and had to handle numerous projects. Now, I help many clients improve their time management with this very basic exercise, while they are transitioning into something new.

Step 1: – Decide that planning time is the most important to do and take at least an hour or two to do this!

Step 2: – Write each and every task on one big master list. Spend time making sure you have got everything; work stuff, family chores, miscellaneous projects you have been meaning to start, administration, marketing for your business, old or new friends you want to contact and arrange to meet. Include your work and your fun things to do. I recommend you list the items on a spreadsheet or word processor. Check you have listed absolutely everything you can think of!

Step 3: – Now, go through the list and categorise each item. If its life and death that must get done urgently put the number 1 next to it. Be honest, ask yourself; ‘would the world end if this did not get done by the end of this month?’ I assume nothing would cause that, but I exaggerate to make my point. Ok so, once you have identified the 1s, everything else becomes a two.

Step 4: – Now go down your entire list and estimate how much time you would ideally love to do each task. Be conservative and give yourself more time than you could need. Write down your estimation by the task.

Step 5: – Now, comes the clever bit, if you have been working on a spreadsheet and you’re clever with spreadsheets you can simply sort by the column of 1s and see what your priorities are. If not, simply list the 1s on a separate list so you can see them clearly. Now, I advise you go through the 1s and do step 3 again. This time ask yourself what really needs to happen this week and today.

Hey presto, you should now be able to see clearly what your priorities are! And you should be able to see if you physically have enough time to do them in the next day, week and month. Maybe you have been expecting the impossible? So stop! Figure out a way of extending the timeline and giving yourself enough time to do the tasks. Tell people of your new expected timeline on things. Start saying ‘no’ to things that are not key to you and where you are headed. Maybe work out a plan to delegate some tasks. Doing this will release creativity and decrease your stress.

Check in on your planning every week or so, including checking your 2s and re-categorizing, and re-prioritising.

This may feel like a lot of work. The thing is, it will make you more productive and will help you stay on track and aware of what is important and where to spend your time to reach those goals in your life that are most important to you. Most of all you’ll begin to feel in control again and your stress will leave! mountain-climbing