Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Overwhelmed By All That Needs To Be Done?

If your memory is anything like mine, it's just not possible to remember every little thing that pops into your brain, let alone all the requests, to-do's, phone calls, etc. Some things pop in and out of my brain fairly quickly, making it so very important to write things down. In fact, I've found the saying "what is written down gets accomplished" to be very true but only when done in a way that works for me. Operating directly out of my running list on a day-to-day basis can be quite overwhelming; however, I've adapted the process into a technique that has proven effective for many of my clients and might be helpful for you, too.

Everywhere I go, I always have with me a small, lined notebook. From a psychological perspective, it's important that the notebook is in a color or pattern that makes me happy and puts a smile on my face, making me more likely to use it and not avoid it. A good example of something that would work for this notebook is Franklin Covey's Floral Lined Journal, which can be found at, or Wellspring's Flip Notes, which can be found at For individuals that prefer electronic solutions over paper solutions, the Notes or Evernote applications on any smart phone can work, too. My notebook serves as a "master to-do list", basically a data-dump. When a to-do item, an idea, a voice mail message I must return, meeting notes or the like arises, it gets written in my notebook, freeing my mind for what pops-up next or, better yet, to focus on the day's priorities.

Then, at the end of each day, I review my "master to-do list" for what are the next day's priorities, pulling 3 - 5 items which absolutely must be completed. In my strategy session, I review upcoming appointments that require planning, pending deadlines and what appointments are scheduled the next day requiring certain preparation or that I take related items with me, taking into consideration anything impacting what are those 3 - 5 action items. With all that gets thrown at me (and my clients) during any given day, I find that 3 - 5 action items are about all that can be planned in advance while realistically expecting them to be completed. Finally, those 3 - 5 action items are written on a 3"x5" index card, something to keep in front of me when working on my computer or carry with me between that day's appointments.

If you take just a few moments at the end of today to plan for tomorrow, it could make a world of difference in how your day goes, enabling you to accomplish more and avoid overwhelm from what's not important or not time-sensitive. How do you currently handle your to-do items? Is your system working? If it is working, what do you like best about your system? On the other hand, if it is not working, what frustrates you most about your current system for handling to-do items?
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