5 Steps to Calm the Chaos and Attack Your To Do List

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with daily life that you find yourself paralyzed, unable to move forward? Wanting nothing more than to hide under the covers and wait for it to all just go away? Oh sweetie! Me too!

This past week has been just that for me. It has been one sports event, dentist appointment, grocery shopping trip, school function, work project and meeting after another.

Each night I go to bed ready to take on the next day with a vengeance but as soon as the alarm goes off the desire to pull the covers back over my head and hide from the world sets in. My chest starts to tighten and the feeling of overwhelm begins to really take root in my head.

When the chaos sets in and I can’t seem to calm the feelings of doubt and insecurities that try to tell me I am not good enough or capable, I follow these steps to calm the chaos. 

1. Brain dump

Grab a piece of paper and your favorite fountain pen and dump all of your thoughts, feelings and tasks you need to get accomplished onto the paper. Sorting through all of the craziness that is going on in your head and getting it out onto one place starts to calm the chaos right away.  I find that this forces me to think more clearly, rationally, and calmly. Just start writing and it will start to flow. I promise you will feel better immediately.

Related: How to Do the Ultimate Brain Dump by Mike Vardy

2. Organize your to do list

Look carefully through your brain dump and create two lists. One for the tasks that must be completed today and one for the items that can be pushed to tomorrow or even next week.

Many times, we are so overwhelmed because we are looking at the massive amounts of projects and todos that are consuming the space in our brain. But when we start to really pick it apart, we find that many of the things that are stressing us out are either not in our control or are really meant to be done at a later time.

To calm the chaos, take a look at the things you have on your list and push the things that can wait until tomorrow or next week to another list. 

3. Identify the one project that if completed today you will feel super accomplished when you lay your head on your pillow tonight

What is the one project or task that is hanging over your head? Give that task or project the attention and importance it deserves today. Not only will you feel a huge sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, but you will feel more capable of taking on the next big task if you knock this one out.

Lots of times, we put off the big tasks because all of the little ones are eating away at us. But those small things don’t just eat away at our confidence, they also eat away at our time. And that means that our important projects, the things that really matter to us, never get done and we just feel worse and worse.

4. Batch your to do list

First things first. Let’s take a second and throw the myth that multi-tasking makes us more productive to the curb. The truth is that study after study has shown that multi-tasking actually decreases productivity and drains our creativity. Batching is the cure to the multi-tasking black hole.

Batching simply means grouping tasks together that take similar resources to complete. This makes you more productive and keeps you focused. Answering emails, returning phone calls, checking your Facebook inbox can all be batched together. That way you can get those small, mindless tasks all knocked out at once. 

Now it is time to hit that one big project that you can't wait to tackle that we talked about earlier. You know the one. The one that tonight when you lay your head down on your pillow you will feel super accomplished. Decide how long that task will take. Three hours you say? Block off three hours today and focus on this project and knock it out. Give it the time that it deserves and demands and make it happen! Stay determined to get it finished and watch how amazing you feel. Talk about a calming of the chaos. 

Related: How to Use Batching to Become More Productive by Michael Hyatt

5. Get rid of distractions

You know those things that break your focus, distract you from the task at hand, and stare at you from across the room? I call that my cell phone. Yikes! That thing can almost be the death of me sometimes. I have been known to hide my cell phone in the other room to stop it from taunting me. Not only does this feel freeing but it also cuts down on the distractions in the biggest way. Most of our interruptions come from our cell phone these days. Don’t be afraid to break up with your phone for a short bit of time to get your to do list conquered.

Or maybe it is your internet that is a huge distraction for you. Stopping to check out your best friend’s most recent Facebook post of her new baby can really set the Facebook mindless scrolling in over drive. Save that for tonight while lying in bed basking in the after glow of your accomplishment of completing your big project for today. You know the one I am talking about!

We all feel a level of overwhelm in our lives. This life is busy, chaotic and full of daily tasks that can take over. When you feel the overwhelm set in follow these steps to calm the chaos. 

I would love to hear from you. What steps do you take to calm the chaos when you get overwhelmed? 


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