Burn out. Stress. Feeling tired. All things the average twenty- or thirty-something deals with these days. We expect it all. We want it all. We all want to achieve great things. We put pressure on ourselves and our goals. Which result in overflowing to do lists on to do lists. Scrambling to do it all. But do you ever sit still and think about what’s actually important?
And that’s why I wanted to touch on this subject. Give some tips on how to deal with and prioritize. Look, I’m nowhere near being a pro at making good to do lists but I’ve learned over the years when I’ve reached my limit. When to stop and reflect. It’s a process that you need to be aware of. Let’s stop overwhelming ourselves to do it all and start focussing on what’s really important. I hope the following five tips will help you to prioritize your overflowing to do list as it helps me.
IS IT GOING TO GET YOU CLOSER TO YOUR GOAL?
Ask yourself this question: is what I have on my to do list getting me closer to achieving my goal(s)?
When you prioritize your overflowing to do list it’s about putting the things that will make a difference at the top. If there is something that won’t be making an impact straightaway or in the long run, then put it down on the to do list. Or scrap it all together.
I just recently asked myself this question as I’m working on my own business Fiona Gobbo Creative. I have a million ideas of things I want to do but I realized not all of them are a priority. My goal this year is to have two to three big design projects every month starting this June. With this in mind I scrapped all the ideas that were not going to make an impact right now. After that I created a backlog list of the things I want to work on in the future.
So what will make an impact right now? Put that on top of your new to do list. Is it going to make an impact in the future? Backlog it. Is it not helping you achieve your goals? Scrap it.
RE-EVALUATE YOUR METHODS
The problem could also be the method you’re using. You might feel like the process of checking off your to do’s is sucking the life out of you or you don’t have a structure for it resulting in an overflowing to do list.
Write down how you prioritize your to do list right now and what the pros and cons are. Is it helping you check off your to do’s? Or are you losing track? And what does your perfect to do list look like?
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
I think one of the most important things when killing your to do list is to have the right tools. You can go paper or digital — whatever works best for you — but makes sure it fits with the method you’ve discovered works for you.
I personally start with my goal planner. I’ve designed this goal planner with the bigger picture in mind — working from my 10 year goals to this years goals. When I achieve everything this year I’ll be one step closer to my 10 year goals. The goals for this year are grouped into 5 bigger goals that I then break down in small bite size goals. I attach dates to these bite size goals so I can keep myself accountable. The last thing I do is plan every step I need to take and when in the calendar overview. And that’s how my weekly to do list is born.
Second tool I use is my Dear Diary planner. It has a page for every day of the week with three main goals, bigger to do’s and 10 minute to do’s. I plan my week in advance and can prioritize clearly what needs to be done. Everything in the three main goals needs to be checked off by the end of the day.
For brand design projects I use Asana, which is an online tool. With Asana I can easily see what I need to do and when it needs to be done.
REFLECT ON YOUR TO DO’S
You know what helps with feeling less overwhelmed by the whole process? Looking back at how far you’ve already come.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed it has everything to do with all the things I want to do. And less to do with it being too much or having no time. I just want to achieve A LOT. Which logically leads to becoming overwhelmed. That’s why I love to reflect on what I did do.
This way I can see how far I’ve already came. It helps me put things into perspective. I tend to downplay what I’ve achieved which leads me to believe that I need to do more. But once I look back I see what I’ve actually already done, I get a sense of calm. All of the sudden the overwhelm subsides and I can clearly prioritize my overflowing to do list.
TAKE A BREAK OR MOVE ON
Sometimes you need to throw the towel in the ring. There are two things you can do: take a break or move on. Knowing when to give up is a strength, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
Last week I noticed I was getting too overwhelmed. Not feeling myself, not feeling creative, I decided ‘F it’ and take a break. I took two days off which helped me clear my mind. Yes, there was still an overflowing to do list waiting for me. However, taking time off led me to prioritize and backlog what I could. In other words: sometimes you need to put the to do list to the side and focus on yourself. Take a break.
And sometimes it’s about moving on. The goal you once thought would bring you joy and happiness doesn’t anymore. Maybe you’ve grown as a person because of events. Or it just doesn’t fit your lifestyle. I’ve experienced this when I went to the fashion institute. I love fashion and I love branding, so the course Fashion & Branding seemed like the perfect match for me. Turned out it wasn’t. I just couldn’t find my way during the course. I had to do things that I wasn’t fond of. I love fashion but making the fashion wasn’t for me. And on top of that, my perspective on things were not seen or appreciated. There wasn’t a clear grading system other than the teacher that would grade the work either loved it or not. And then after six months I decided to quit. It just wasn’t for me.
It teached me that giving up was a good thing sometimes and that holding on wasn’t always the best option. If your goals and to do’s don’t feel right anymore, move on. You’ll excel in other things.
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