Everyone has a different way of coping with stress. For some, a long hard jog shrugs off all the niggling worries. Maybe a good binge of a new Netflix series does the trick for you. What do you do when your to-do list is so high that it’s completely overwhelming, giving you no time to cope with your stress in the way that you usually would? Here are five tips from Miriam van Heusden, an analytics expert, for dealing with a crazy to-do list that’s drowning you.
1. Start somewhere. Anywhere.
Overwhelm prevents the higher cognitive areas of the brain from connecting and serving you. When you’re super stressed out, the part of your brain that is activated is the one responsible for fight or flight, which means you’re not capable of reasoning and making sound decisions. You do not want to try and tackle your to-do list in this state. The best way to move out of that state is by choosing the easiest task on your to-do list that you can start with. The moment your brain focuses on that task and you start to experience a sense of achievement, you’re better equipped to handle that to-do list calmly and effectively.
2. Prioritise by importance, not urgency
If you have four tasks that need to be done on the same day, one of which has an angry client on the other end, it’s easy to give in to the pressure and handle that one first. You need to think clearly and ask yourself which task is more important. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated and subsequently swayed in the direction of the loudest person if other tasks are waiting that are of more excellent value to the business. Of course, it might be that the loudest person’s job is of most significant importance, in which case you can ease the pressure and nurture your business at once by seeing to this task first.
3. Use the best tools
There are so many great tools for entrepreneurs who want to streamline the way they manage their workload. From the ones, we all know, like Trello, Asana, and Monday.com, to some of the newer innovations that enable you to measure your marketing analytics across various platforms, like Maralytics. These tools will allow you to collaborate with your team members and allocate some of the time-consuming aspects of your tasks to others, allowing you to focus on the revenue-generating aspects of the business.
4. Allocate work elsewhere
If you’re in charge of a team, utilise that as a support structure. As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to believe that you can do the job best, but that isn’t why you have a team with you. Add to your team’s workload even if you think you have to do it all yourself. As the team leader, you can’t lead if your head is down and you’re working 24/7. You need to have the breathing space to be aware of your team, look for growth opportunities, and create new pathways that forge the business forward. You must allocate the work to others and make your to-do list shorter.
5. Have a breather (you don’t need to earn it)
Rest isn’t something we can do when the work is over, the deadline is met, or the client is finally happy. There is always more work, new deadlines, and demanding clients. It is imperative to see rest as an aspect of your productivity. Take a lunch break every day to feed your body healthy, nourishing food. You must have a strong, capable, and clear-thinking captain to lead the company. Remember, you have hired yourself as the leader. Would you put a leader in charge that is always stressed out, tapped out, anxious and tired? No. So don’t allow yourself to reach that point.
Managing your stress levels can be a challenge when you have a to-do list that overwhelms you. It can cause even the most organised person to feel out of control and stressed. But having too much on your plate doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem, as long as you know how best to manage it all. Make sure to have these tips handy.
Some people enjoy the feeling of being overwhelmed even thrive on it. If that’s you, then, by all means, embrace it! But if you’re like the rest of us who feel stressed by what feels like an out-of-control situation, always welcome the help that comes to get better control over anything that is on your plate.