In the past, it was not uncommon for me to feel a sense of overwhelm on a Sunday afternoon. The fun of the weekend was starting to end. The reality of the week started setting in. I enjoyed my weekdays for the most part. But sometimes all that had to get done started to make me feel overwhelmed. And – this low level worrying about the upcoming tasks at hand robbed me of having a good time.
A New Approach
I read the book The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter (I highly recommend it), and it changed my approach. As Christine points out “It’s not so much about deciding what to do – by making a list or something – as it is about deciding when to do it. When we don’t know when we plan to do things that are on our task lists our thoughts typically wander from whatever it is we are doing to our undone tasks.”
Project Manager to Health Coach
In my 10+ years as a Project Manager, I often felt overwhelmed at the start of a project. And once I read this snippet in Christine’s book, it all made sense. In order to ease my overwhelm at work, I made a project plan of all the tasks I could think of. And then scheduled them out with deadlines so I knew the project would be completed on time. I needed to do the same thing in my personal life. The bonus is that now I get to share this skill with y’all as a health coach.
Making my “When to Do List”
Now, instead of letting all of my looming tasks overwhelm me on a Sunday (or other days when things seem to get a bit hectic), I have a strategy. I take ten minutes to write down the following:
- The tasks that are swirling in my head
- How important it is that they get done this week
- When I will do them.
I typically have my calendar handy when I do this. I also take the time to schedule in tasks that I know I must get done with a reminder alarm.
Breaking it Down Further
I also learned that I needed to break some tasks down into smaller ones in order to feel better. For example, “Plan meals and grocery list for entire week” took a large chunk of time if done all in one sitting. However, if I broke that down into smaller tasks, it wasn’t so bad. Instead, I would have:
- Decide on meals to have for dinners.
- Check inventory in the freezer, fridge, and pantry for breakfast and lunch supplies.
- Create grocery list.
- Order grocery items through ClickList.
Much more manageable – and I get to cross more items off of the list – so satisfying.
Give it a Try
I am much happier and present with my family on Sunday afternoons now. Scheduling time to complete the items swirling in my head makes a big difference. This week, take notice when you find it hard to focus because you have tons of tasks looming in your head. When this happens – give the “when to do list” a try. Or break your current task list into smaller, more manageable pieces. I’d love to know how it goes. Share your story in the comments!