Dashing into my office after a meeting, I dump a pile of papers on my desk and gather what I need for the next thing. Someone appears in the doorway, asking if I’d do them a quick favour. I smile. (Correction: my mouth smiles… can they see the panic in my eyes?) “Sure”, I reply, grabbing a scrap of paper to scribble down what they need so I don’t forget.
As I quickly check my emails, I try not to look at the post-its stuck to the screen. Some have been there so long I don’t even see them anymore. The fluorescent glow of others makes me feel a little nauseous.
There are so many things I need to do buried in the pile of papers I’ve just added to. But now’s not the time to think about that. I have somewhere I need to be. So I lock the door behind me and rush off again.
Ask anyone around me and they’d have described me as organised, reliable, in control and capable. And they were right. I was great at getting stuff done, an expert juggler of a bazillion different things, and I very, very rarely dropped the ball. From the outside looking in, everything appeared fine.
But I knew better. I knew the toll this was taking on my wellbeing. I felt exhausted, overwhelmed and terrified of forgetting something or letting someone down.
Not fun. Not fun at all.
You might think that the tasks were to blame. That I had too much to do, and not enough time.
But that wasn’t it.
The problem wasn’t how much I had to do. The problem was having no idea how much I had to do.
The problem was having actions, tasks and reminders scattered all over the place.
The overwhelm and the fear came from the not knowing. It came from the niggling feeling that I’d forgotten something. That I was going to let someone down or drop an absolute clanger that would result in the world ending.
I had no way of managing my to-dos.
Once I realised that – and figured out what to do about it – everything changed.
Within no time at all I felt superly-duperly organised. I could clearly see all the things I needed to do. I felt empowered to say ‘no’ or ‘not now’ when someone asked for my help. I finally felt in control and could focus on what was most important.
All because I found a way to structure my to-dos. I discovered a way of getting them all in one place, and into a system that would support me in getting stuff done. A lovely, flexible system that allowed me to clear my head and focus. (Because there’s no one size fits all – flexibility and adaptability is everything.)
And oh my blimey, it feels good!!
How are you feeling about your to-do list right now?
What if, instead of dread, sleepless nights and frown-lines, your to-do list could bring you joy (yes, really!), anticipation and a sense of achievement?
If you like the sound of that, but have no idea where to start, my online programme, Tame Your To-Do List, walks you through it. Gently, step-by-step, and with plenty of support. It would be wonderful to see you there!