Do you ever get the feeling that you just have too much on the go? I’ve been having that overwhelmed feeling a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving all the projects I’ve got on the go, and I honestly enjoy how I spend my time, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.
When I’m driving, I enjoy listening to audio books, and I recently listened to a great seminar called Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve learned a lot from it, and it seems that it was just what I needed. He says that people’s ability to be productive is directly related to their ability to relax. The key is to get things OUT of your mind so you can fully focus on the task at hand.
I’m writing this newsletter as I sit on WestJet Flight 425 to Kelowna, BC. Many times already this flight, I’ve worried about phone calls I need to make and emails that need answering. But of course, that worrying is simply wasted energy. With no phone or internet available, worrying is not only not-productive, it’s actually counter-productive.
That’s not to say you can ignore those little nagging thoughts. The reason most people continue to worry is because they lack a system the can trust to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. I’ve been trying a new system for me – I’ve started to use a physical inbox – everything that is “unprocessed” goes in it, and while I have yet to get it fully empty, (it’s a project itself to get through the stuff), as least I know I won’t lose it.
For the first time, I made a Word document and made a list of ALL the projects I had on the go. A project is anything that requires more than one action step to complete - everything from revamping the Beanstalk Project website to changing my burnt-out kitchen light bulb. I’ve also made a “someday maybe” list, which is everything I think would be cool to do someday, maybe, but I’m not actively committed to taking action on it right now.
Currently, I have 76 projects on my list (and more than that on the someday maybe list), and the fact that there are SO MANY things on the go is one of the reasons I feel overwhelmed. But I’ll tell you, getting everything onto a list felt GREAT! A physical list let my mind off the hook for trying to remember 76 projects and next actions that go with them.
I’ve made lists before, of course, but often they’re incomplete, so they don’t offer the same peace of mind. The list doesn’t DO things for you, of course, but it’s a good start, and it lets you be surer that you’ve considered all your options when prioritizing your time.
Do you have any advice on staying organized and not feeling overwhelmed, even when there’s lots to do? I’d love to hear YOUR advice!
I related to this photo a little bit...
April 30, 2010
"Your ability to be productive is directly proportional to your ability to relax"
- David Allen
Author - Getting Things Done
Joel Hilchey is the founder of The Beanstalk Project, a youth engagement initiative to develop global leadership and create positive social change. He speaks at schools and events across North America, inspiring character by juggling, storytelling, and playing with mousetraps.
RIDDLE: If you get 100 emails a day, and it takes you an average of 5 minutes to deal with 30 of them, 2 minutes each to read and then delete another 40 of them, and 1 minute to mark the remaining emails as "need to get back to this but don't have time now", how many days will it be until your email inbox explodes? Bonus: How many additional days will go by until your head explodes?