Sometimes, no matter how organized we are or how carefully we plan, life just takes over and throws way too much at us. When there's too much to do and not enough time to get it done, we can feel panicky, stressed, and overwhelmed. I've developed a simple 15-minute process that can help bring me back from the brink, calm me down, and get me through these crisis moments. It involves 9 steps:
- Take 1 minute to breathe and calm your mind.
- Take 5 minutes to clear your work space.
- Take 5 more minutes to clear your mind by listing everything that needs to get done–don't organize or prioritize; just do a brain dump.
- Scan the list and identify tasks that can be delegated–don't be too proud to ask for help!
- Scan the list again and find those tasks that can be put off for a day or two without causing a disaster. Circle the tasks that need immediate attention.
- Pick one of the circled items–don't agonize about priority: just pick one.
- Clear everything else off your desk, gather the materials you need for the chosen task, and get it done. (Try the Pomodoro technique if the task will take more than 30 minutes or so.) It helps me to put on some instrumental music–I use the movie themes channel on Pandora played through my computer speakers.
- When you've finished that task, cross it off the list and pick another circled item. Repeat the process until they're all done.
- Give yourself a pat on the back, and celebrate surviving the crisis.
Simple but effective!
Your turn: Do you think this process will work for you? Or can you suggest an approach that works for you when it all gets to be too much? Please share your tips and thoughts in the comments.
A couple of helpful resources:
- “How You Can Be Calm Even When Life is Rough,” by Carol Morgan on Lifehack.org.
- “The Perfect Mess,” by Dustin Wax on Lifehack.org.