I’ve talked with several people lately who have tasks lists from the floor to the ceiling, and it just overwhelms them. They’re not alone — I can relate, and lots of people have this problem.

If we’re fairly organized, our task list has everything we could possibly want to do on it, and it’ll get longer and longer.

That’s the good scenario — most people don’t have everything on the list, and the tasks are scattered across different systems and lists, in email inboxes and messaging apps, in browser tabs and pieces of paper, and in their heads.

                            

Either way, it eventually gets so overwhelming that many people will give up whatever system they’re doing and start afresh, because the old system wasn’t working. In truth, they just didn’t have a way to deal with the overwhelm.

So what can we do?

It turns out, several key things.

Get Clear on Priorities

Let’s call this Step 0 — if you’re already clear on what matters to you, you’re ahead of the game.

But think about this: if you don’t know what matters, how can you focus on anything? Everything will seem urgent and important, and you’ll be scattered in lots of directions.

If you know what is most important, you can focus on that. The rest can wait. It’s like if you’re a doctor in a hospital, and one person needs a life-saving heart operation, and a hundred people have ankle sprains. You’ll focus on the heart operation, and let the ankle sprains wait for a few minutes.

Get clear on what matters to you. Make a list. Write out why. It’s worth spending 30 minutes on this.

Get clear on what’s important this week. And what you need to focus on today.

If you can get clarity on what matters & what to focus on, it will make you so much more effective than jumping around from task to task as if you were putting out a thousand small fires.

Change How You Relate to Your Tasks

Think about your list of tasks right now — does it feel stressful? This is a sign that you think of them as burdens, as something stressful, or as a potential way that you’re going to let people down or fail or look stupid. Or maybe all of the above.

How I’ve often related to my tasks is something like, “If I don’t do this task, I will be deficient and let people down.” If I have a list of tasks that’s full of these kinds of potential failures … of course it will be stressful!

How do you relate to your tasks?

Is there a more empowered relationship you can create?

Some examples:

  • I’m fully committed to this task because it’s incredibly important to me, so I’m going to create a sacred space of 30 minutes today to be fully present with it.
  • This task is an opportunity for me to serve someone I care deeply about, with love.
  • These tasks are training ground for me to practice presence, devotion, getting comfortable with uncertainty.
  • These tasks are an adventure! An exploration of new ground, a learning space, a way to grow and discover and create and be curious.
  • This task list is a huge playground, full of ways for me to play today!

These are some examples from my life, but they don’t have to be your relationship — what empowered way would you like to relate to your tasks?

Find that, and practice it daily.