How to Use To-Do Lists When You Feel Overwhelmed

Realizing you have a pile of work to do and no idea when to complete it can be overwhelming. When you have too many tasks to complete, knowing where to start can be difficult. Feeling you have too much to do and too little time can paralyze you into not taking action. Rather than giving into your emotions, take a deep breath, clear your head, and start creating a to-do list. You’ll feel more in control and be able to accomplish your tasks before the deadline. Here’s how.


Write Down Your Tasks

Make a list of everything you need to do. Include deadlines for each item. Keep everything on one sheet of paper. If you prefer an electronic list, use the notes section of your phone. You’ll be able to keep track of everything in one place, including what needs to be done and what you’ve finished.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Organize your tasks according to the deadline. If any tasks have the same deadline, put the bigger task first. If a task is too big, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Include your most pressing tasks at the top of your list, so you see them every time you read over it. Categorize your tasks as A: urgent, B: to do as soon as possible, or C: to do when you have time.

Begin Completing Your Tasks

Get to work finishing your tasks. If you don’t feel motivated to begin completing your task with the earliest deadline, start with the task you most want to do. Or, determine what you can finish in the next 15-30 minutes and start there. When you’re done, cross out or delete the items you finished.

Ask for Assistance

Find out whether your colleagues can help you finish tasks. People love helping others solve problems. You might request assistance on a project, or ask what a colleague does when they feel overwhelmed. Find out if you can delegate some work in exchange for coffee. Or, talk with your manager about your priorities and workload to gain perspective and guidance.

Set a Timer

Commit to working on your to-do list for a certain amount of time. Set a timer for 30-40 minutes, then get to work. Your race against time will keep you focused on getting done all that you can. You’ll experience more motivating stress than paralyzing stress while working on important tasks.

Take Breaks

Step back from your to-do list and focus on something else. Take a walk, drink coffee, meditate, or read. Disengage your mind from the items on your to-do list. You’ll come back refreshed, focused and ready to accomplish bigger tasks.

Add to Your List “Find a New Municipal Job”

Include on your to-do list “find a new municipal job.” Make the process easier by partnering with MuniTemps. Our seasoned recruiters get to know your skills, experience, needs, and interests, then match you with municipalities looking for the qualifications you have. Get started with us today.

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