Does this happen to you?
It is 1:48 in the afternoon, and I feel like I have accomplished NOTHING today.
I have so much to do, but it seems like I haven’t pulled out a to-do list today.
Wait! The real problem with the to-do list is that it’s not updated. I’m like the cobbler whose children have no shoes.
You see, I’ve always been fanatical about my to-do list. The Master To-Do List. Lately, though, I’ve been so busy, the actual to-do list is getting farther and farther away from me.
Somewhere over the past two weeks, organization has escaped me.
I’ve got three big compartments in my life that absorb my time: my leadership development profession, some real estate that I own, and my growing Women Who Spark platform.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the running of a household, taking care of the outside yard and landscape needs, spending time with the friends who mean so much to me and keeping up with the activities of our five adult kids. Oh, and giving my husband some of the attention he appreciates. And, yes, I mentioned him last. That is how he often feels. Lucky for me, he is pretty easy going.
Do you ever find yourself in this place? You know you have so much to do, and instead of doing the so much you have to do…..you’re just walking around. That’s the worst!!
Or, maybe like me, you’re pulled to the room where someone in your house is mindlessly watching entertaining (or not-so-entertaining) TV. I can always count on my husband to have something lined up on the DVR that I would enjoy. And sometimes my mind tells me, “Oh just never mind. You may as well plop on the couch and catch up on “This Is Us.” #happyplace
Wheel Spinning? What To Do?
#1: STOP. Clean everything off your desk or work area or favorite nook
Stop and sit. Take five minutes to clear everything out of your way. You may be at your desk at work or at home. Or perhaps you manage all of your to do’s from your kitchen or dining room table. Wherever your control center is, clean it off. Hide your stack in a drawer or a closet or the corner of another room. For now.
Because I am the one wheel spinning at this exact moment, I just finished cleaning everything off my desk. The surface is clean except my computer, my phone, a lamp and the few artifacts that serve a decorative (and inspirational) purpose.
#2: Do. One. Thing.
Select ONE thing that you could do right now in this moment of wheel spinning. Just one thing. Whatever you need in order to accomplish your one thing, those items will be the only items sitting in front of you. For now, do not worry about another thing on your to-do list or another thing that is swirling around in your head.
For me, my one thing is writing this blog post. The only thing I need is my computer.
#3: Set a timer and get to work.
Think about how much time you will need to get this one thing done. Set a timer, and challenge yourself to finish it.
A fantastic piece of advice a mentor gave me years ago is “Do one thing at a time.” Complete it start to finish, then go on to your next item. When we’re all tangled up in our overwhelmedness, we can have a tendency to work in fits and starts. I know I do!
Back to the timer and the one thing. I have 25 minutes to write this post and upload it to my website with a photo. Game on!
#4: Create your master to-do list.
When you have enjoyed the satisfaction of solidly completing one thing, choose your next “one thing.” I suggest that your next “one thing” be the creation of your master to-do list.
The best way to create a master to-do list when you’re in full-on wheel spinning mode is to simply get out a piece of paper or open a new document on your computer and brainstorm with no organization at all. I happen to like the tactile nature of writing my lists on paper, in my planner. Later, I transfer it to a spreadsheet in my computer. Get it all out.
After you have written down every single thing you can think of, you may want to put it into compartments: work, kids, house, social. Or, you may want to write down your compartments first, then brainstorm under each of those headings.
Next, assign deadlines and estimated times needed for completion.
Your deadlines could potentially plan one or two years. I recently helped my sister with this exercise. Because her list included many home projects, she has bigger projects planned as year one, year two and year three. Now she feels less overwhelmed by all of the things that need her attention, because she has them all bookmarked.
#5: Enter your to-do list into your calendar.
This last step is the most important. With your master list in front of you, open up your calendar, and begin to assign these items to open calendar slots. Do you need 60 minutes to complete a report for your boss? Put it on the calendar. Most of us put the deadline on the calendar but not the time needed to do the work. (Read that last sentence one more time!)
Do you need two hours to get a handle on the stack of mail and all of the bills? Put it on the calendar. This is called calendar blocking.
After you have entered blocks of time on your calendar to complete the overwhelming number of items on your master to-do list, you can relax. You’re covered.
And if something comes up, no worries. Simply shift your calendar blocked time to another time slot on your calendar.
I have 7 more minutes to find a photo and upload this to my website. I’d better get busy!
See you next time! XOXO
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