overwhelmed by your to do list

4 Quick Tips When You Feel Overwhelmed By Your To Do List (+ Free Time Blocking Training)

Last week I had that typical feeling of being overwhelmed by your to-do list: Tightening in my chest, exploding head, feeling like life was just too much, and just wanting to crawl under a blanket and zone out… #multipassionatestruggles.

When that happens, most of the time it’s either one, or a combination, of these two things:

  1. I am not taking care of myself and need to take a step back from doing
  2. I just have too much on my plate and need to put my ducks in a row

In this blog post, I will dive deeper into point number two, and share my quick tips that help me feel on top of my to-do list again.

#1 A Braindump When You’re Overwhelmed By Your To Do List

When you feel stressed and overwhelmed by your to do list, it’s because your brain cannot cope with the amount of information coming in. Whether that’s negative thoughts, to-do list stress, or just overall stimulation from a busy life.

So one of the things that always helps me is getting all of that stuff out of my head, and jotting down everything on a big piece of paper, a journal, or if you prefer in a digital doc.

At this point it doesn’t matter if it looks messy. Just start writing down everything that’s in your head, all the small to-dos, the bigger projects, the appointments…

When you feel that everything is out of your head, you can start to sort them out:

  1. Probably (hopefully) some of this is already on your to-do list, in your Notion Workspace, or on your Calendar.
  2. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize and organize the rest (see #2 below)

#2 The Eisenhower Matrix When Your To Do List Keeps Growing

Eisenhower was a war strategist, but his system for quickly sorting to-dos in order of priority comes in very handy when you are a Multipassionate (entrepreneur).

Eisenhower plots each task based on two indices:

  • Importance
  • Urgency

In order to find out what you need to do first, you need to decide in which of the 4 quadrants every one of your tasks falls. Look at the image below:

eisenhower matrix examples

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix

If you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, do this:

  1. Take a big piece of paper and draw a quick matrix.
  2. Write down all of your tasks in the corresponding quadrant
  3. Schedule the important but not urgent tasks
  4. Delegate the not important but urgent tasks
  5. Eliminate the not important and not urgent tasks
  6. Do the important & urgent tasks now

Eisenhower Matrix Examples

  1. Say you have a deadline for a client coming up next week, and you need to finish some work

This is a NOT URGENT BUT IMPORTANT task (unless it’s a big project and you haven’t started at all)

  1. You have to do grocery shopping because there is no food in the house

This is a NOT IMPORTANT (unless you think you will starve otherwise 😉 ) BUT URGENT task. You can delegate this task to your partner, or decide to eat out (delegate to a restaurant)

  1. You already have a logo and brand colours, but you want to redo them

If you are very busy, this is a NOT IMPORTANT AND NOT URGENT task

  1. Your website is down and you get an email complaint from a (potential) client

This is an URGENT AND IMPORTANT task, it can’t wait!

What if all of my tasks feel urgent AND important?

One of the pitfalls here is that sometimes everything seems important and urgent. So how do you make sure you don’t write all of your tasks in the 1st quadrant?

I use this rule:

Urgent = if it doesn’t happen NOW (or today) you are, or someone else is, going to experience direct negative effects because you didn’t do it. If it’s just self-imposed urgency (you are the only one stressing about it), it is NOT urgent.

Examples of urgent and important tasks:

  • An exam deadline tomorrow
  • A dentist appointment because of a cavity that bothers you
  • A coffee date with your best friend who just broke up with her boyfriend

Not urgent or Not important enough:

  • Your daily workout
  • A blog post you have been wanting to write for weeks
  • A meeting that you don’t need to be in

What if I can’t (or don’t want to) delegate my tasks?

You don’t need someone to work for you in order to delegate tasks. Some tasks on your to-do list will be related to your personal life, like doing the laundry or cooking. If you have a partner, this is something you can delegate. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of friends.

Another way to delegate is paying for a service like:

  • Getting a cleaner
  • Buying a meal instead of cooking a meal

Also, some people don’t like to delegate things (“I can do it better myself”).

If that’s the case, you have to learn how to let go of control. Getting help in the form of mental or physical support is what makes successful people successful. You can’t keep controlling everything in your life. Not if you want to grow your business, or if you want to have a fulfilling personal life.

#3 Plan Out Your Week And Organize Your To-Do List

Take time to make time.

When I feel overwhelmed, it’s often because I haven’t planned out my week, or when all sorts of things pop up and I am not sticking to my schedule anymore.

Just take some time to:

  1. Have another look at the week
  2. Schedule all your important but not urgent tasks in your calendar
  3. Plan all the appointments that came out of your braindump
  4. And set aside some time blocks for the things that really matter to you like working out, personal growth, or just me-time

I created a free training on how I time block my week, you can download it below.

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Need more focus and structure in your schedule? This Notion Template will teach you how to set up your weeks in focus blocks.

#4 Use My Favourite “1-Thing” Tool

I absolutely love this last tool. It brings me back to the core of what really matters to me and to discern the truly important priorities from the trivial tasks.

I especially use it on days I feel too stressed and overwhelmed to do one of the previous steps, or when I just have time to do 1 extra thing in between my busy plans.

It’s a very easy exercise based on 3 questions you can journal around:

1. What is my biggest dream?

Example: I want to be fully location independent

2. What is my #1 goal to get there?

Example: Creating an online course to create passive income

3. What is ONE thing I can do today to get one step closer to that goal?

Example: Writing down the outline of my course

Imagine if you couldn’t do anything else in the next 365 days but to do that one thing every day… In 1 year you will easily have achieved your biggest goal and you’ll be well on your way to fulfilling your biggest dream.

Life is not always easy, but it can be simple 😉