There are days when there is so much that must be done. It can make a person crazy.
When the stress becomes overwhelming, I turn to my planner to handle it.
(I also turn to coffee, escapism in the form of romance novels, and burrito-wrapping myself in blankets. See? Crazy.)
How I use my planner when there is too much to do is different than how I normally use my planner.
On any given day, my planner is a calendar and a place for to do lists. I plan out projects in it. I file information that needs to go out of the house with me in my planner, and I make my menu plan and grocery list.
TOO MUCH TO DO DAYS
But on days when a bunch of stuff must be done, it's easy to move away from the planning and just do the stuff, letting other things fall through the cracks.
I'm working on NOT letting that happen.
I welcome you to journey with me in avoiding getting overwhelmed in the first place and in dealing with tasks and appointments in a smarter way.
I've come up with 6 solutions to solve the "Too Much To Do" problem.
1. Use More Space for Planning
I add a daily docket on crazy days.
I've talked about it lots in other posts, so I'll just say that if your day is crazy, you need one.
I don't use daily dockets on normal days, though, in part because I want to keep my planner light to carry. I also prefer to rely on monthly (appointment) pages and a weekly spread for the advantage of having an overview of my week.
2. Make a Layout for Dummies
Notice the arrow in the picture. Once I move things from the weekly page to the daily docket, I draw an IDIOT PROOF arrow to make my eyes move to the daily docket.
Also, as seen in the picture, I highlight things as they are done, deferred, deleted, or delegated. It makes things still left to be done pop out.
Note that I also mark things in the circle before the task: done = check mark, deferred = arrow, deleted = X, and delegated = @. But that is just for reference. The highlight is so that I don't miss doing an important, undone task.
Anything I can do to make it obvious where my eyes need to focus - like clipping irrelevant pages out of the way or using page markers - happens.
3. Create a Priority List
Because my eyes go to the left part of the page first (as an English reader), the left column of the daily docket is the MUST DO list.
Notice how long that list is in the picture? It's real stuff that needs doing, unfortunately.
We bought a new car at the last minute (when the old one died a horrible death at 130,000 miles, may it rest in peace) on a holiday weekend, so we have so much that needs to be done by Monday, like trading in the old title and transferring insurance.
The second list is important, but not priority.
4. Assign Dumping Grounds for Thoughts and Tasks
Even on a busy day, things will come up that can be done some other time. Have a place to write tasks based on context and due date, as I show here, so that you can dump the thought immediately and move on to working the plan.
5. Work the Plan in a Logical Order
Number the tasks, write them in a certain order, or put a star next to the really important ones.
It depends on how your brain works (mine needs the star), but it does help you to do those tasks first.
For me, any morning or afternoon specific tasks go on the daily schedule. After that, I do the starred tasks, tackling the hardest one first in most cases.
But find your rhythm. Some people would prefer to get four easy tasks out of the way first, and that is fine, too!
6. Avoid the Problem in the Future
There will be calmer days. When there are, knock out a couple of those looming tasks.
Check your planner often and work through the tasks so they don't become overwhelming.
Schedule an errand day. Schedule a computer day at a coffee shop, away from the kid and the phone. Schedule a filing day.
Try these solutions and see if they work for you. If you learned something, share this post with someone who would appreciate it.
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