Being overwhelmed when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list is all too familiar to most of us. The fast pace of life and the overall lack of time takes a toll on our wellbeing, making us stressed and anxious too often. However, there are ways to cope with this situation. And one of the most important ways is organization. Admittedly, it may sound like a cliche, but it really is true. Therefore, if you are interested to learn how to stay organized when you have too much on your plate, you are in the right place.
Here are 5 simple steps to staying organized no matter what:
1. Make a to-do list
I know we have mentioned endless to-do lists, but the most significant issue many people have is that they don’t write down everything they need to do in a day, week, or even month. By putting all the tasks on a piece of paper, it will make it seem more manageable. When you keep repeating all your obligations in your head, you quickly get inundated. But once you see them neatly written down, the feeling will go away.
Not to mention the satisfaction that you will instantly feel after you cross some points off the list. It will also boost your motivation to keep going. And another thing, write everything down, even eating. Also, if possible, try to predict how much time each task requires. In the end, you will reduce the amount of empty, wasted time to a minimum.
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
2. Smaller chunks are less intimidating
If you have a massive project ahead of you or something big you need to accomplish, rather than putting that one point on the list, break it into smaller bits. List all the steps you will have to take to finish that project. It will make the whole thing less daunting and more manageable. It will also serve as a sort of a plan on how to go about that huge thing you need to do. So, in the end, it will also help you keep track of what you have done and what the next step is. You will easily monitor your progress, which will make the end result seem more tangible.
3. Set deadlines
If there is no external authority that sets deadlines for you to meet, it’s advisable to set them yourself. It’s easy to get into the trap of postponing your obligations and then finding yourself in an even greater mess. Procrastination is one of the most vicious enemies of organizing. To beat it, you will have to arm yourself with quite a lot of discipline. But if you persevere, it will get easier and become a good habit. Also, it may be a good idea to set reminders in your calendar. Several alerts that will go off periodically as you approach each deadline will ensure you don’t forget anything.
4. Prioritizing is the key
Prioritizing is probably the hardest thing for everyone to learn how to do. However, it is necessary to determine what is a must and what can wait. The smart idea is to create a table and organize all your obligations into four categories:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important and not urgent
- Not important but urgent.
So, naturally, the first tasks you should do will be the urgent and important ones, the short-term tasks. Long-term tasks, i.e., the not urgent ones, you can leave for later. Finally, if you have that option, delegate the urgent but not important tasks.
5. Take care of yourself
You might think this has nothing to do with staying organized when you have too much on your plate, but you would be mistaken. It’s vital to take some rest and allow your brain to reset and function properly. If you are exhausted, haven’t had enough sleep, eaten well, aren’t hydrated, or haven’t done any physical activity for an extended period of time, you will have difficulty remembering things and focusing.
Therefore, if you start feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Do something you enjoy. Even simple activities like going for a walk or listening to some music can do the trick. After you have devoted a bit of time to yourself only, you will have more energy, and things will not look so bleak.
“A good system shortens the road to the goal.” – Orison Swett Marden
One of the reasons why it’s essential to stay organized when you have too much on your plate is that it will help you protect your sanity. When the list of things to do keeps piling up, and you have found yourself buried in work, you will first start feeling inundated. It can lead to the inability to sleep, waking up frequently, recollecting your tomorrow’s schedule, and stressing out about it. The lack of sleep will consequently make you feel too tired to be productive. And, thus, begins the vicious circle.
Ultimately, you will end up so stressed that you will start struggling to balance other aspects of your life. Your relationships and social life will suffer the hardest blow. Finally, under so much pressure and suffering from extreme exhaustion, the quantity of the work you do will take precedence over the quality. But, if you step up your organizing game, you will quickly get back on the right track to success.