What to do when you have lots to do
Q: I’m about to move countries, change jobs and sell my house buy instead of being motivated, I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like time is against me. I know this is impacting myhealth. Any help appreciated! – Sonia.
A: Sonia, I understand. A friend of mine did this recently, too.
Would you feel less stressed and more productive if you could rip up your to-do list and work from your calendar instead? When you explore timemanagement research, one consistent theme keeps coming up: highly productive people do not work from a to-do list.
When you have a bottomless number of tasks to get through in a day and/or you have other people relying on you, the only way the ultra-busy can pull it all off is to keep a prioritised schedule that, for some of them, is almost minute-by-minute. The bottom line, when people were asked to reveal their secret for getting so much done in each day: if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.
If you feel that your biggest health and energy zapper is a constant case of feeling that there are not enough hours in the day, try these suggestions:
Don’t let your calendar fill up randomly by accepting every request that comes your way, instead try time-blocking the most important things in your life first. Get clear on your personal and work priorities and pre-schedule time-blocks for these items. That might include two hours each morning to work on the strategic plan your boss asked you for, or 20 minutes of time for meditation every morning. Mark your calendar to include time-blocks for things like exercise, a date night or other items that align with your core life values.
Most systems automatically schedule new events for 30 or 60 minutes’ duration. Highly productive people only spend as much time as is necessary for each task. Make the default event duration in your calendar 15 minutes. Simply by changing your default setting, you will automatically discover that you can fit more tasks into each day.
Time-management principles suggest that you schedule everything. Instead of checking emails every few minutes, schedule two to three times a day to do this. Instead of writing ‘‘call Sarah’’ on your to-do list, put it on your calendar or establish a recurring time-block each afternoon to ‘‘return phone calls’’. Remember that we make time for whatever we prioritise and value. What is scheduled actually gets done.
Consider utilising this as a health-enhancing, energy-creating resource in your life and notice the spaciousness it can create for you to spend time with people and activities you currently wish you experienced more. I wish you well in this next chapter of your life!
Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional.
Mark out a time block for things like meditation and exercise.