If you’re the kind of person who likes to make to-do lists and have everything planned in advance, the chances are that you probably know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the amount of work and the lack of time to do it all. So, what can you do when you start feeling that way? You can stare at your list and be mad at yourself for your bad organization, you can resent the amount of work you have, or you can approach the situation in a more positive manner and do your best to learn something from it. If the last option sounds like something you’d like to learn how to do, here are a few ideas that might help you adjust your expectations and deal with such feelings more effectively.
Understand why it happens
First things first, you need to understand why you keep ending up with more things on your list than you can handle. The truth is, we tend to underestimate the time it’ll take us to complete our projects and then we run out of time. It’s more of an issue with the human nature than your own personal trait, so don’t beat yourself up over it – understanding the issue is the first step towards fixing it.
Another reason there’s never enough room on our to-do list is that it just feels too good to say “yes” to everybody who asks us for help. We all like feeling needed, and accepting to help the person in need also helps us bond with them, which is why saying “no” has become quite difficult, even when we know that we just don’t have the time.
Set your priorities
After you understand the reasons for becoming overwhelmed, the next thing you need to do is set your priorities. Take a look at the list and decide which things are important and which can be postponed (or not done at all). For instance, if you’re interested in getting into Ivy League, studying and gathering as much information about the admission process as you can should be at the top of your list. On the other hand, if you’ve promised your friend that will go to the mall with them and help them pick a new outfit for a date, it’s not something that necessarily requires your presence – just ask them to take photos of the clothes they like so you can comment, or simply say you’re too busy, especially if you know it could take a while.
Setting priorities will help you not just focus on the important tasks but also be more productive and motivated while doing them. You’ll be less likely to sabotage yourself, and your other organization-related skills will definitely improve as well.
Ask for help
Many people have an issue with asking for help as they think it will make them seem weak, annoying, or needy, but the truth is, sometimes, you just can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything alone – and that is completely normal. Think of it this way – if you feel good about helping your friends, the chances are that your friends will also appreciate the opportunity to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for a favor when you need it.
It’s not just about asking though; you should learn how to accept help as well. Look at it as a gift – if somebody wants to give you one, it would generally be rude to reject, wouldn’t it? They might even get offended if you reject their help, so this is one instance in which you definitely should say “yes”.
Focus on the positive
Instead of looking at all the things you haven’t managed to achieve, focus on those that you have. It will help you go from thinking that you’re not doing enough to thinking that you’re doing just fine. Keep in mind that not everything has to happen right now – you have time, as long as you organize it properly. Sure, you should think about your future and make plans, but plans change, so don’t allow yourself to fall into despair if things get a bit out of hand. Just stay focused on your priorities and everything else will fall into place eventually.
Whenever you feel like there’s just too much going on and you’re losing track of everything, stop and acknowledge the reality of the situation. Don’t focus on the past decisions as you cannot change them, but focus on the present and the future – do what you can at that moment and think about what you can do to prevent such issues in the future.
Work on yourself, learn how to prioritize, organize your time, and focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot. Eventually, you will learn how to handle any potential stress much more effectively, you will become more productive with your time, and you’ll be more realistic about your own expectations.