We’ve all been there. The house is a mess. There’s no groceries. And there’s a to do list a mile long running through your head. It seems like you’re just drowning. You’re just overwhlemed. Yep, you know the feeling. Because we’ve all been there. We ALL have.
When you’re this overwhelmed can be tough (really tough) to get organized and to get a plan. Am I right? Here’s some things that I’ve learned over the years to quickly to get out from under:
1 Make a list
Get everything out of your head. Every tiny to do item that you can think of. I like to do this type of brain dump with pen and paper, but you can also do it digitally (for those more digital list makers, here’s my favorite apps for that). The goal is to get everything that’s taking up space in your head … OUT of your head. It also gives you a nice long visual of all the tasks at hand. I set a timer for 10 minutes and write down absolutely everything I can think of. No particular order and no categories.
2 Room to Room
You’ve got a fabulous list of a zillion things you need to do. So let’s add to it. Seriously. Pick a room to start in and walk around each room of your home, including closets. Can you think of anything else to add to your list? Does seeing … oh let’s say that huge pile of dirty laundry remind you that you need to DO laundry?
I know you’ve got a list of probably a zillion things to do already. But remember, we’re not focused on accomplishing any of these things. We’re just focused on making the biggest master list you can possibly make. Plus, just because it’s not written down on your list doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get done immediately (re: laundry).
Now that you’ve got this absolutely scary crazy long list, we’re going to organize it. Organize it by category that is. Everyone’s categories will be different. My categories and explanation are listed below. Spend some time thinking about the categories that will be most helpful for you before associating a category to each of your tasks.
Out: Tasks to do OUTSIDE the house, which mostly includes things I need to buy or return. Currently on my ‘out’ list include taking my high heels to re-soled, grocery shopping, and updating my P.O. box for my blog.
Home: Tasks I need to do at home, without my computer (ex, water plants, clean dishwasher (yes, I actually do this), do laundry).
Call: appointments I need to make over the phone.
Computer: Tasks that need to be accomplished on my computer as opposed to my phone. I try to tackle as many online tasks on my phone as possible. With a 7-month-old, it’s much easier to get to my phone instead of pulling up my computer. Yet sometimes it’s easier to do online work on my computer. For example, banking and bill related items I prefer to do from my computer. You may not need to have a separate smart phone & computer list, but it’s helpful for me.
Iphone: Like I mentioned above, I try to do as much online work from my iphone as possible. Things like emails, online research, scheduling social gatherings all happen through my iphone.
Joe: I keep a list of things that I want to mention to Joe (my husband). Yes, it feels slightly odd to have a husband category, but we’re both busy and well, I’m forgetful. Plus I love lists. So there’s that.
Next Month: Just like it sounds, stuff that I need to get to, NEXT month. These things will fall in to one of the categories above, but since I don’t want to think about it until next month, I keep it in the ‘next month’ category.
Later: Similar to the ‘next month’, this is for tasks that I want to accomplish later on, whether a couple months from now or a year from now. The goal of this category is to get ANY tasks out of my head and on to a list.
You’ve got a crazy long to do list that’s sorted in practical categories, you’re probably wondering when the h*ll am I going to get this all done? Well you’re not going to do it all at once. Especially considering some tasks on the list are more urgent and important than others.
Prioritizing can take several different formats:
- Picking a date that each to do item needs to be accomplished
- Ranking each item on a scale of importance (A-C, 1-3) where you only accomplish the most important items first before moving to the next ‘level’.
I utilize the first option and pick a date to accomplish each task. Sometimes the task doesn’t get accomplished when I want, but in general this format works best for me.
Now let’s get real. When are you actually going to get the work done? Remember, most tasks don’t need to be accomplished immediately, but all of them do need a deadline.
One suggestion I always give is to NOT be too ambitious. When I overestimate how much I can get done in a day and realize I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, there’s a huge sense of frustration and disappointment. I’m one of those people who just LOVES to cross things off a list. Be practical and realistic about what you can accomplish in any given day.
So life happens. Lists get made and lists get forgotten. Or missed. Or intentionally ignored. Because you’re completely overwhelmed. All is OK. If you find your list getting out of control, don’t stress. Grab a seat, a nice glass of wine and re-evaluate step 4 and 5. Priorities change. Fire drills happen. Your list was written in pencil not pen (or a very editable online tool). It was made to be edited.