Opinion | Dealing with the ‘to-do’ deluge | Michelle Crawford

Raise your hand if you have ever felt overwhelmed in business.

With this group of super-honest readers, I think we would see every hand raised.

There are so many expectations of us in our various worlds these days, 

The irony is that the main cause of overwhelm is in our heads, literally.

It happens when we choose to focus on all the things that can’t be done or are on your list, as opposed to concentrating on what is doable, has been done or you know reasonably will be done. When this is combined with the many ways in which these tasks are communicated, no wonder we feel overwhelmed. What can we do?

1.       Be super honest. Realise you are your own best friend, and worst enemy. 

2.       Turn off notifications. Deal with your devices when and how you choose to, not at the whim of the other person.

3.       Manage your schedule. Plan short breaks, walks and daily exercise – and make them non-negotiable.

4.       Not all overwhelm is equal. If you are learning something, your head will always feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm in these situations is a good thing as it leads to learning. For this one, welcome the overwhelm.

5.       In an open office, move. Find a work room, meeting pod or a corner somewhere. Wear ear phones, work at home or in your car. Do what you need to do to block out distractions or create a space. You know how you work best, create those conditions.

6.       Focus on the single most important thing per day, not your whole to-do list. This way, you will go home every day feeling like you have accomplished the thing that mattered most.

7.       Realise that no human ever accomplishes everything on their to-do list each day, nor will you. That is perfectly OK.

8.       Remember, NO-ONE is indispensable. Somehow, without you, life will go on.

9.       Ditch your to-do list. Schedule each thing in a timeslot in your calendar, along with the one main thing per day rule. It feels fantastic.

Ask yourself whether the things you are doing truly matter? Are they aligned with your values? Are they helping you move towards your purpose, or your “Why?”  If not, ditch them. Suddenly you will free all this space in your calendar to do what is meaningful.

Life is too short to be busy doing.  Why not try being?

Michelle Crawford is the founder of human resources firm Being More Human