Solving The "Too Much To Do" Problem with a Planner | Giftie Etcetera: Solving The "Too Much To Do" Problem with a Planner

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Solving The "Too Much To Do" Problem with a Planner

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.)

planner, planners, planner page, planner pages, planner layout, planner layouts, frixion pen

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.


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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Anonymous said...

I've always loved the idea of your 'daily docket' when I first read about it. I incorporate it mostly on the weekend where I have more of a combination of work, household and personal tasks to do (oh, and this thing called 'relaxing' which I do schedule in!

I've made use of those 'Jot It Down' Target Dollarspot notepad paper for when I need a DD because they're the perfect size when punched into my planner, have LOTS of lines and tiny circles to the left of the lines that I can either use to check off or even set up as a timed schedule. Of course, as you've written in the past, a simple, plain piece of paper works just fine.

Anna said...

My biggest thing is prioritizing, then working through my list and not getting distracted.

JMO said...

Thanks for linking up today!! xo

Rebecca at said...

December is definitely a month for crazy busy days. Thanks for the advice, especially the dumping ground. It's always when I'm the busiest that I think of all the other things that I need to get done.

Sagan said...

Good tips - breaking the list down into manageable items and focusing on one thing at a time after everything's been written down can really help!

Wendy @ Living Almost Naturally said...

Thanks for sharing these ideas at #HomeMattersParty!

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant tip. Earlier this year, and many other times, I've struggled with just this problem. I usually use a weekly layout but then I have days when there's just too much going on. The weekly layout is just not enough. So I thought I would get a daily layout and soon realized that I didn't like not being able to see my whole week, and what's coming up. So as much as I needed the space, I needed the week more. So I switched to a bigger size and the weekly lay out. Then a week + notes, but there are still days I struggle with. This is a perfect solution for me. I also checked out your video on the tasks. I love the sticky notes on the ruler idea and the dashboard sticky notes too. I guess I'm just a big fan of your planning tips. They're so appropriate and sensible. Thanks for taking the time to help us. :)

Anonymous said...

P.S. I also love the "Idiot Proof" arrows. :D

Margaretha said...

Drinking gallons of coffee, reading novels till 3am and wrapping yourself in blankets is perfectly normal, I'll have you know! One must get one's priorities right. First the above, then the planning.

Jaime Barfield said...

I use a post it on my bookmark for non crazy days that there are minimum items to do. However, i have my daily pages ready for when my day is going to be a crazy one.