Stop Being Overwhelmed by Your To-Do List

Stop Being Overwhelmed by your To-Do list

So it’s the start of another year. We shout hooray or have our fingers crossed. We are either thrilled that last year has ended or hoping this year is just as awesome as the last. Whatever the case may be, this year holds infinite possibilities. Can you feel it? We are determined to make this our best year yet. We make lists of our new goals, dreams, aspirations, plans, strategies, targets and whatever else we want to call them—so we will be motivated to actually accomplish them.

With our new plans and to-do lists, the excitement can sometimes be overwhelming. We have jumped into this year ready to tackle so much and then we realize, maybe this is a bit much. But overwhelming is the last thing we want this year to be. We don’t want to approach the end of December feeling like a big red stamp of OVERWHELMING is what labels our year. Let’s decide to make our goals for this year with that in mind. We can definitely accomplish them without being overwhelmed.

Whether you have already created your to-do list or are just getting started, here are five tips to help you complete it and maybe check off a few more tasks.

Baby Steps

Take a cue from kids. We don’t see them running the halls of the Labor and Delivery Department after just entering the world, so why do we feel like our to-do lists have to be completed overnight? Let’s take one task at a time.

Most of us don’t want to climb the tallest mountains because we think of the huge, almost impossible task ahead. Nothing makes climbing a mountain easier than breaking it down into one small hike at a time. Some of the toughest climbs are broken down into so many feet per day. Maybe we can look at our lists that way—one day at a time.

The same is true about a sandwich. Depending on the level of our hunger, we may be tempted to swallow it whole. But we usually take it one bite at a time. This is a huge shift in perspective when it comes to our to-do lists. Completing the entire list can seem daunting, but taking one task at a time is refreshing. Better yet, breaking one task down into smaller tasks is even more inspiring.

Decide What Matters

Another thing that can make a list more appealing is to make it shorter. Now before we aggressively embrace the delete key, let’s ask some qualifying questions. What really matters? What do we want to accomplish above all else? Does this task line up with our vision and values? Are we keeping the main thing the main thing? Will we impact our target audience with this? Is this more about the people or the program? Will that event be worth the monies spent? Is that realistic?

Filtering our lists through these questions will help to shrink our lists and narrow our focus. There are other questions that can help taper our lists as well? Like, is this fundamental or fantasy? Does this event conflict with another? Did this idea work last time? Can someone else take this on? Is this in my wheelhouse?

Once we have gone line-by-line answering these questions, our list may be shorter. If it is, we can take this as an opportunity to celebrate because we have actually “crossed off” a task or two.

Raise Your Hand

Answers are revolutionary. But sometimes we have to ask the questions to have the epiphany. Why spend hours designing a graphic when there’s an app that takes only minutes? Why use a map with all of the available navigation systems? Somewhere, someone is still driving around with a map. Don’t laugh. Why put your water bottle in the freezer overnight, with all of the canteen and flask options that keep water cold for 24+ hours?

What things on our lists could be done easier if we just asked someone if they have prior experience? Maybe they know someone else who has done it. Maybe there’s an app for that. We don’t have to recreate the wheel. If all else fails, we can ask Google—they seem to know it all.

Seriously though, raising our hands can be the biggest breath or fresh air when it comes to tackling our to-do lists. Let’s work smarter, not harder. We’ve probably heard that saying before.

Carry Out With Contacts

Trying to get out of a warehouse with all of the lights off would be frustrating. A missed step here and an accidental head-butt there would not be pretty. The same can be true when trying to complete your to-do list alone. We don’t want the bumps and bruises of stress. Working with others makes tasks easier to lift. We have tried carrying things ourselves and felt the unnecessary strain. We would not attempt to lift a refrigerator up a flight of stairs alone, so why should we take that approach with our to-do lists? We don’t want to burn out, we want to burn on.

Let’s think of who we can reach out to that can help us along the way. Scroll through your contact list, inbox, directory or even google a nearby organization doing similar work. Maybe we are trying to accomplish the same goals? Maybe we will forge stronger, longer-lasting relationships that will enable us to achieve more for years to come. We are able to accomplish more together, so let’s give it a try.

Keep It Simple

At the end of the day, we want to be a community that knows the names of our families and a place where families know they belong. If we are doing that, completing the rest of our to-do list is icing on the cake. As we said earlier, let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

This article originally appeared here.