Time is short and there’s so much to do. Just thinking about all the things you have to accomplish in so little time starts your heart racing. Your mouth dries up, your breathing becomes shallow, and you have trouble concentrating. Your flight instinct is kicking in and instead of plowing through all the things you have to do, you just want to curl up under the covers with Candy Crush and hope it all goes away.
Your stress is a product of vague, undefined goals to be achieved in a limited time. Without a definitive view of what needs to be accomplished your mind magnifies the work required until it seems overwhelming. One simple but effective way to fight this feeling is to make a list: a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done before your deadline.
As an example, Lianne and I recently traveled to Niagara Falls for a long weekend. I had taken Friday off of work and planned to spend the morning packing, as well as getting my house (which was for sale at the time) show-ready before I left. I wasn’t even out of bed when the anxiety started creeping over me. There was way too much to do before eleven o’clock, when I was supposed to leave and pick up Lianne. There was no way to get it all done. I found my mind veering off in all directions, not even willing to contemplate getting up and tackling the chores ahead.
To fight the anxiety, I grabbed my BlackBerry, opened up Listful, and started composing a list of everything I needed to do. And I mean EVERYTHING. “Take a shower” was on there and so was “get dressed”. “Eat breakfast” as well as “put away breakfast dishes”. I detailed everything I needed to pack and every little household chore I needed to do before the house would be ready for prospective buyers.
The act of composing the list helped calm me down tremendously. The amorphous unachieveable blob of work had been broken down into a list of mundane, achieveable tasks that I could see myself completing. I started in to work on them and as I finished each one, I tapped that item in Listful to mark it complete. Using the handy Hide Selected feature, as each item was marked complete it disappeared from the list (not deleted though, just hidden). I could see my progress in the concrete form of a list growing shorter and shorter. Each time I tapped an item to hide it my confidence increased and I ended up ready to leave half an hour early!
So the next time you’re faced with a big, blurry goal to accomplish in a limited time, try pulling up Listful and breaking it down into small, detailed steps. You’ll be crossing the finish line before you know it.