Overwhelmed by your to-do list? Try this simple solution

Overwhelmed By Your To-Do List? Try This Simple Solution

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Are you struggling to get things done, make progress and be more productive? If you're feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, try this simple solution to help organise your list and relieve your stress and anxiety.

We all have tons of things we need to get done and our to-do list just keeps on growing. The more we add to it, the more overwhelmed we become. This often leads to us burying our head in the sand and avoiding the demands of our lives.

So how do you write a better to-do list, stop feeling overwhelmed and start taking action? 

My simple solution will allow you to build a to-do list to organise your life in a more productive and actionable way. 

There will always be things we have to do. However, being overwhelmed by our to-do list is not one of them.

Use my effective to-do list method below to win your day, feel accomplished and start making progress in all area’s of your life.  But first, let’s analyse why you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed By Your To-Do List?

Why your to-do list is making you feel overwhelmed

To-do list anxiety

Whilst a to-list is a great way of getting things out of your head, an unstructured to do-list can be the source of great anxiety.

Most to-do list are just that – lists!

A list of EVERYTHING that comes to mind, filled with things we believe we have to accomplish.  However, despite our initial intentions, this list also contains items we added a few weeks or months ago. Items which remain uncompleted, but kept on the list as a ‘reminder’.

A reminder of that we’re unfocused, unmotivated and can’t get our life in order!

On top of those long outstanding actions, we continue to add more items to the list, which inevitably end up in the ‘uncompleted’ category in a few weeks time. 

No wonder our to-do list makes us feel overwhelmed and stressed out!

Unrealistic expectations for your to-do list

Because we tend to add things to our to-do list as they pop up in our head, we also create unrealistic expectations.  This is because we mix our goals with our to-do’s and create a list which is hard to navigate the actions for. 

There is a big difference between goal setting and a to-do list.  However, if you took a quick glance at your to-do list right now, you probably have items on there that are actually goals.

As well as adding the day to day ‘life’ items to your list, the primary use of a to-do list is to allocate the daily or weekly actions needed to do to accomplish the overarching goal. 

Removing your goals from your to do list and only including actions you can tick off, will reduce the overwhelm and give you a sense of accomplishment. 

To-Do list over planning

Yes we all have 24 hours in day.  However, over planning the actions on your to-do list on any given day can be overwhelming.

Taking a more pragmatic approach when reviewing what you want to get done, in the time you have available, is a much more sensible system to better manage your time and stress levels.

There is no point in adding 10 items to your list for the day and then realising you only accomplished 3 of the 10 at the end of the day.  Stop making yourself feel bad!

Use your to-do list in a way that better manages your time and your emotions.

Try This Simple Solution

How to stop being overwhelmed by your to-do list

1 - Choose the best to-do list system for you

As well as incorporating the 3 points above, it’s important to decide on the best to-do list system that is right for you.

There are several systems you can use to create your paper based to-do list, including: 

  • Diary
  • Sticky notes
  • Notebook
  • List on a pin board
  • Bullet journal

The list of digital to-do lists is even more vast and available in both free and paid subscriptions.

I personally use both a paper and digital based systems for different areas of my life. 

(If you want me to share what I use and how I implement them – let me know in the comments section below)

Both systems have their benefits and draw backs.  It’s important to explore which system works best for you to accomplish your primary goal –  getting things on your to-do list done!

2 - Categorise your to-do list in different areas of your life

Once you’ve explored the different system options, it’s time to actually organise your to-do list once and for all.

Instead of having a long list of actions underneath each other, put each item under separate categories of your life. 

Do this before you start to sort out what your priorities are!

My simple system includes the following categories:

  • Business
  • Health
  • Family
  • Growth
  • Finance
  • Fun & Experiences
  • Home & Environment

Putting things I need, (and ‘want‘), to do under each category, helps to organise my life in a systematic way. You can of course categorise your to-list under any area or importance to you. Either way, doing this will elevate the feeling of overwhelm and creates a to-do list foundation to make it easier to take action. 

3 - Brain dump all your to-do's under the relevant area of your life

Now you have your life categories, it’s time to do a systematic brain dump!

Grab your current to-do list and start to allocate the actions you’ve written down under the respective category. Add anything else that comes to mind whilst transferring to the new list. Capture as much as you can.  

Make sure you do not include any ‘goals’!  This list is for the things you need to action!

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4 - Prioritise your to-do list actions

Doesn’t that feel better already?  All the demands of your life are neatly categorised and your to-do list is starting to feel manageable.

Now it’s time to start structuring how you go about getting the tasks completed. 

Next to all the items, in each category, highlight the level of importance for each task, using the following priority levels:

  • Do: Important and urgent. (Should be done first)
  • Schedule: Important but not urgent. (Should be scheduled in)
  • Delegate: Not important but urgent. (Delegate to someone else to complete)
  • Eliminate: Not important and not urgent. (Take it off your list)

After you’ve prioritised your tasks, add some deadline dates for the next week and month. They do not have to be exact dates.  You could write: within 3 days, within a week, within 2 weeks. 

This will help when plotting your daily/weekly actions and keep you accountable. 

You have now have a to-do list that is organised, prioritised and removes all the overwhelm of actually taking action! 

5 - Plot 2 - 4 actions per day

At this stage, it’s important to remember using this system is to ensure we avoid ‘to-do list stress’ and become overwhelmed.  

I would advise allocating a maximum of 4 actions to complete each day. 

Whilst plotting actions for the week, be fully aware of how much time each action will take to complete and the time you have available to do it. 

Once you have completed the action, tick it off your list and give yourself a big round of applause!!

6 - Review and revise your to-do list daily

Stay on top of your to-do list by reviewing, revising, adding and plotting on a regular basis. 

I tend to add new items under the different categories as the come up.  However, I may not immediately allocate a priority or plot it into my schedule.

My Sunday morning’s are used to plan my week ahead.  This is where I will take the time and go through the process above to plan my actions. 

If you find it easier to do it as you go – that’s great.  

Make this simple system WORK FOR YOU!

Overwhelmed By Your To-Do List? Try This Simple Solution

You have now eliminated the feeling of being overwhelmed by your own to-do list. 

Use my simple solution as part of your productivity system. In no time at all, your life will become much easier. You’ll gain more control of how you spend your time and the progress you make.

If you want more tips to make your life a little easier, check out my following blog posts:

One Habit You Need To Make Progress Today 

How to Achieve More Balance in Your Life

How to Simplify Your Life in 5 Days

I’d love to hear what you think about my to-do list system and if there’s anything you’re doing to keep ‘to-do list overwhelm’ at bay.

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Chantelle - I AM BRAZEN SPIRIT
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A London born girl who got tired of her excuses & finally took action to change her life at the age of 41!

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