Here’s how to get things back on track and under control when your daily task list becomes overwhelming.
At some point in your journey as a blogger, entrepreneur, independent contractor, or small business owner, you are going to get to a point where you feel overwhelmed by your ever-growing, never-ending daily task list.
In fact, the clock feels like it is spinning so fast that you start to feel like it is hard to tell where one day begins and the other ends…
Whether you are at a tipping point in your business and need to hire help, or you just have a huge list of things that need to get done every day, you can quickly feel as if you are sinking instead of swimming.
I have personally experienced this several times for various reasons, and, each time, I have what I call my “tidal wave dream.”
The Tidal Wave Dream
In my dream, I am standing on the boardwalk looking in horror at the ocean as a tidal wave is forming. It gets higher and higher and I know that I should run, but I am fascinated by it. By the time I realize that I need to run, it begins crashing down around me … and then I wake up.
I tend to have these dreams many nights in a row and each time, the danger feels even stronger. Sometimes I dream that the wave does crash down and then I am in a beach house that is sinking and crumbling around me as I try to scramble to dry land.
Tidal wave, tsunami, and other dreams of huge waves are actually very common and often appear when you are under a lot of pressure, are facing periods of significant change, or if you just feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responsibilities you have.
If you tend to procrastinate, have a looming deadline, have taken on more work than you can handle, or have projects that are a bit out of your comfort zone, you are probably likely to experience one of these dreams.
A Wrench In Your Daily Workflow
Landing a big contract, delays both within your control (sneaking in a vacation) or out of your control (getting sick or having to care for a family member), miscalculating how long something will take … these are just a few things that can throw a wrench into your daily workflow and cause you to get behind on your daily tasks.
No matter what the reason is, the sooner you get things back under control, the better. After all, let’s face it, there probably aren’t too many successful businesses that are running out of control.
Are You Procrastinating?
One thing worth mentioning before I give you tips to get back on track is this: If you are procrastinating, all of the suggestions on this list are really useless. You just need to get started.
Be honest with yourself. You know if you are putting things off; in fact, you are probably doing just about everything possible to avoid starting while at the same time you are attempting to fool yourself into thinking that you will just “knock this other thing out really quick and then I will get started.”
Stop lying to yourself. You just need to begin.
If that sounds like you, then stop reading now and just go get started.
Getting Back On Track
Okay, so if you are sure that procrastinating is not the real issue, then here are some steps to get yourself back on track and get your daily task list under control:
First, make a list of your top priorities for the day.
If you have multiple clients, order it by the value of each client. For example, if you are earning $10k a month from one client, and only $2k a month from another, you clearly need to prioritize the first one.
Next, draw a line under what you MUST get done and another line under what you SHOULD get done.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Finally, cross out everything under the second line.
That’s right. Everything below that second line is a luxury for someone that has plenty of time and is not overwhelmed … it is not a priority. Cross it out.
Okay, now you have your working daily task list. I bet that it now seems A LOT more doable. If you want, go ahead and stop reading now and start working on the items at the top of the list.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, keep reading.
Circle any items on the list that you could potentially outsource or assign to someone on your staff.
Now, go ahead and start outsourcing or delegating. You’re welcome. You can stop reading now.
Nothing circled? Let’s figure out how to free up more of your time so that you can do the work yourself.
Get another sheet of paper and write down all of the OTHER things that you do on a daily basis.
Include everything … errands, cooking, cleaning, shopping, childcare, watching TV, etc.
Now, put this daily task list through the steps above 1) Prioritize, 2) Draw lines under what you MUST do and SHOULD do, 3) Cross out everything under the second line, 4) Circle anything that you can delegate or outsource.
You may need to let some things go for a while. Perhaps you order out instead of shopping and cooking for a few days. Perhaps you let the housework go, have the kids do it, or hire someone to come in and clean.
Get a babysitter, dog sitter, yard cutter, dishwasher, whatever you need to do… you ARE earning more than you would as a dishwasher, right?
You might need to skip watching TV for a while. Maybe you need to work a few nights and weekends to get caught back up.
Maybe you just need to stop being such a perfectionist.
Sometimes delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) is all you can do or all you need to do … and it is most certainly better than missing a deadline or not delivering at all.
Break the project down into bullet points and then start knocking it out in pieces, completing it one task at a time.
Time To Re-Evaluate
Once you do get things back under control, you may need to re-evaluate your workload and client list. It may be time to make some changes, such as hiring help, outsourcing, or letting a client go.
Be honest with yourself and stop playing the blame game. The responsibility is ultimately YOURS to get things done, so whether that means you need to get better at planning, better at hiring, better at estimating your time, whatever it means… you need to do it.
Remember, if you are procrastinating, all of the suggestions on this list are really useless. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. For procrastinators, simply getting started is the problem. Once you begin, you will likely be fine … so just go do it.
Over To You
I would love to hear how you tackle your daily task list when it gets out of control. Please leave a comment below and then use our beautiful social sharing buttons to share this article with your followers.