I have lost count of the number of times over the years I have looked at my TO DO list and sighed. It just seems overwhelming at best and totally impossible at worst.
There are days I simply want to bury my head in the sand and make it go away. But thats really not going to help in the long run, is it!
Some of us have simply created the right habits to getting things done, and not overthinking things too much. They realise that most jobs will still be there tomorrow, along with a set of new ones that have cropped up, and so its better to stay on top of things as much as possible.
I have already talked about the reasons why people put things off in a previous post, but here I want to give some realistic ways that will help you to break out of overwhelm, take control again, and get things done.
Take Back Control of your Life!
If you can start to do things now rather than put them off, trust me, it helps in so many ways. You have more head space to think about your goals, you have more time to do what you want, and you have more energy (theres nothing worse than sitting on the sofa getting more and more bogged down by the thoughts of all the things you should be doing)
Its time to get off that sofa and reclaim your life! You will thank me for it in the end…….
Procrastination is a Habit
We all live our lives in our way. We have set up habits that most of the time we don’t even realise we are doing, and procrastinating can be one of them all too easily.
We can think it normal to put things off, run out of time each day, move our TO DOs constantly to the following day – and basically not being in control of our lives at all.
We blame time, committments, family, friends, workload and much more – but the truth a lot of the time is simply that we are spending too much of our time procrastinating and not just getting on with things. Those things are usually the ones we think of as boring, overwhelming, or complicated.
This habit can easily be retrained though, and you’ll be amazed at the results!
Make friends with your diary
Its far too easy to fill up your diary with scheduled things that don’t actually leave any time for your TO DOs. If you use your diary in conjunction with your TO DO list then you’ll be much more likely to get things done.
Make sure that you don’t have too much in your diary for any one day. Leaving some gaps will enable you to add in a few things from your TO DO list. Once TO DOs are scheduled then they are much more likely to happen!
Add in the TO DOs that are the highest priority at that time, and then you will feel accomplishment. If you only ever add in the easy stuff, the quick wins, then you will find yourself still left with the stuff you procrastinate over by the end! Doing things as they are needed to be done will pay dividends.
However, you must get yourself into the main habit of following your diary! Theres no point in scheduling perfectly if you only roughly do whats written down. Think of it as a favour to yourself in that once you have done the jobs for the day, you’ll be able to relax or do the more interesting things in the evening, or for the following day.
If you waste just an hour each weekday by overthinking what to do next, then that adds up to a full day of catchup by the weekend – and who wants to waste their time off!
Its just as important to schedule some rewards and breaks as well – all work and no play……..!
How do you eat an Elephant?
The famous saying goes. Well – one bite at a time.
And its the same with any large and overwhelming task you need to do. Don’t add in things like “Get House Decorated” as this is much too large a task.
Instead, take it “one bite at a time” and have your TO DO list break it down more:-
Get House Decorated:
1. Look at pictures of houses I like and get inspiration
2. Order samples of possible wallpapers/paints I want to use
3. Decide which room each sample would work best in
4. Work out a plan of action in terms of timescales – which rooms first etc…
5. Book decorator in to do the work
6. Order all fabric, paint, wallpaper for the first room
7. Get the first room decorated
8. Do steps 5-7 for each room
It will be much easier to start and complete point 1 over a couple of days or weeks (depending on how much time you have) – and then you can see that you are progressing.
Another great advantage to doing it this way is that you are likely to spot anything that may harm your plan (are you away soon, can your decorator book in time when you want it, will your home be cohesive when finished etc…..) and can then do something about it right at the outset, rather than later when it may cost more to fix (wrong colour in a room, fabric not available any longer etc…)
Just DO IT!
Theres only so much planning and talking about things that can be done. I am all for making a list and ensuring (as much as possible) that things will get done and work well, but you can plan too much and waste time.
I was always the one who had a beautifully colour coordinated and well thought out revision timetable at school – but often could waste an entire day creating it when my time could have been spent actually revising (and then the timetable is wrong as you have wasted that day, and you have to start again… argh!). There is a need for a plan, but not a perfect plan!
My recommendation is that anything that you don’t want to do, just get it started. Spending even just 10 minutes on it will give you momentum and once something is started it usually wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be anyway!
Take responsibility for things
When people are trying to lose weight, it is common knowledge that those that succeed usually have had to take responsibility in some way. They have either joined a weight loss group, or used an app that they have to say what they have eaten each day.
Having it written down and shared can be motivation enough for not procrastinating, and just getting it done. We all have at least a small amount of competitive spirit in us, and once you have told people about what you are doing, then its out there. You will want to have completed some of the steps before you are asked how you are going.
One of the easiest ways to avoid procrastination is to be accountable!
Where do you Start?
Sometimes getting the worst thing of the day out of the way first is the best thing you can do. I find that I work best this way, as otherwise my day is spent with the thought of whats to come in my mind, which is never a nice feeling.
Its like when you have accidentally hurt someones feelings, its better to talk to them about it rather than worry about it until the next time you bump into them. Things tend to grow if left undone – and thats no way to live.
Other people will start on the quicker wins, as this will build momentum, and others will start anywhere, just as long as they start. Theres no right or wrong answer here – its what works for you. I advise trying each way and seeing which is the best fit for you.
You are only one person, and you only have 24 hours in a day. Don’t kill yourself trying to accomplish everything on day one. Slow and steady wins the race – as long as you are progressing every day, no matter how small a step, then you can’t be putting things off!
Also, don’t be a perfectionist – things will NEVER be perfect, and you can spend so much time trying to get them that way that you’ll never finish. If you don’t start something because you are waiting for the exact right time and circumstances, chances are you’ll still be waiting in another year. Don’t let the ideal get in your way.
So – you should now have more of an understanding of how to get things done that bit quicker!
You will be using your diary and TO DO list in conjunction, not taking too much on, and being realistic about yourself and your capabilities. You will do things rather than think about doing them, and therefore gain more time for yourself.
Overall – you should sit down at the end of each day and feel much more happy about what you have achieved – and what could be better than that!