Several months ago, I met a prospective client for lunch. From the moment she arrived she looked extremely overwhelmed. I greeted her by asking, "How are you doing today?" She hesitated for a moment with a frazzled expression and said "My “to-do list” never seems to stop growing. I am overwhelmed and I need help."
As we began talking she said, "It doesn't matter how hard I work or how early I start my day, I barely make a dent in my “to-do list”. I have so many post-it notes that it overwhelms me. I know it is taking a toll on my body because it is hard for me to sleep and my stomach hurts all the time. Sleeping no longer feels restful but like a chore and hours wasted in my day. My friends and family are continually nagging that I don't spend enough time with them and sometimes it feels easier to just ignore them. I haven't even sent a baby shower gift to my best friend back home and her baby is now 6 months old! What do it do?"
I started out assuring her that she is not the only person that struggles with the forever growing and dreaded “to-do list” and that together, we would work through her list and create a strategy for change. We started by creating a master list of everything she needed to do. I wanted her to get it all out on one sheet of paper so that her brain was no longer using energy trying to remember things. Next, I had her separate the tasks highlighting those things that are important vs those that are urgent. I then asked her, "What is the one thing you could do that would make these highlighted tasks easier to accomplish?" She said, "I can block out specific, non negotiable time on my calendar to accomplish them." Together we looked through her calendar and found gaps of times where she could accomplish or work on the tasks that she deemed either urgent or important. She made a plan at the end of the day to look back at the status of her goal and do the same thing that night in preparation for the next day. As she continued to implement this system in her life she found that she was accomplishing more of the urgent and important things and became less concerned about the other things. Her priorities were more clear because she had a plan and no longer felt like she was just winging it and getting little to nothing done.
If you or someone you know are like my client who feels like their “to-do list” is forever growing and never shrinking, I would love to grab coffee and chat. It is truly amazing how a few simple changes can create dramatic results in what you are able to accomplish and how you feel about what you did.