If you constantly find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do, maybe it’s because you’re doing the wrong things. Maybe your goals aren’t focused, so it feels like you’re doing so much without moving forward. Don’t worry- here are 5 tips that will help you take control of your to-do list and help you work more efficiently towards your goals.
It is a very real thing for you to feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Like you are working super hard, but at the end of the day, like you’ve just wasted time. I know so many accomplished women, like women who are getting it all done, and they have messaged me saying they feel like they’re all over the place. They’re doing things but feeling like they’re accomplishing nothing. So this is real and it affects so many of us! Maybe you feel like you’ve wasted your time at the end of the day- you’re not even sure exactly what you got done. Or just in general you feel you’re not doing enough. Or maybe you’re just randomly checking off things from your to-do list and it doesn’t seem to be having the impact that you really want. Well, that’s what we’re talking about today and I am here to tell you that it is 100 percent possible for you to feel satisfied at the end of the day for everything you have accomplished, instead of the opposite. So, I’m going to be sharing 5 quick tips to overcome this feeling that you’re doing so much, but accomplishing nothing. Let’s dive in!
I’m really excited to share these tips with you because, as I mentioned before, I have this amazingly good friend who I personally think is doing so, so much. Yet, she texted me because she knows how much I love systems, organization, and productivity, and how skilled I am in that. It’s like my superpower! She said she feels like she is not accomplishing everything that she thinks she could be. She feels like she’s wasting time and just checking stuff off and that’s when I stopped and thought, “If this woman, who is amazing, is thinking that- then I know there are so many others out there that are thinking the same.” So this episode is for you all because I suspect because at a certain point, you’ve just felt that at the end of the day. You look back at everything that you’ve done that day and think, “What the heck was I doing? I didn’t get anything done that I really needed to get done.” Maybe you feel like you’re not pushing the needle forward for your business or doing the kinds of things you should be doing. So that’s why I am really excited to talk with you about this! I really think it’s going to resonate with a lot of you all.
Tip 1: Let Go of Expectations
So, my first tip is to let go of expectations. Starting with others’ expectations for you- from your family, society, or your friends. A lot of people are always going to have ideas about what you could be doing and what you should be doing. Sometimes that influences your feelings about what you have actually done, right? So that’s the first thing. You’ve got to let that stuff go. They’re not living your life! They don’t know what you know and they don’t have the goals that you do. Ultimately, all that matters is yourself and the expectations that you place on yourself.
But, here’s the kicker- I know that many of us are much harder on ourselves than others are. Sometimes, we put too much pressure and stress on ourselves. I know I do this personally- a lot. I’ve talked about this openly on social media saying that I will end up with migraines and my husband will tell me that I don’t know where to stop. I don’t know how to pull back and figure out I’m doing too much until my body tells me I’m doing too much. I recently had a conversation with Mama Dr. Jones where we discussed these same things if you want to take a listen here. That’s kind of why I really started looking into all these productivity and organizational hacks! Not so that I can become more efficient to do more things- that’s not why I do these things. I want to be more productive, organized, and effective doing the right things. So that I have more free time and so that I don’t feel this need to put more pressure and stress on myself. To keep adding to that to-do list. So, if that sounds like you- I’m speaking your language. Know that I hear you. It’s likely that you are holding yourself to impossible standards. Cut yourself some slack! Some of this might be fueled by feelings of competitiveness or jealousy. Looking at other people can make you feel like they are already “there” and you aren’t yet. So, you add more things to your to-do list and then feel bad about yourself when you don’t have time to get them all accomplished. Let go of all that! What you think you should be doing and what others think you should be doing. That’s going to be the biggest change that you can make. I don’t know you and I can’t see your to-do list but I suspect you’re probably doing too much. That’s why you are feeling overwhelmed- it’s not that you’re not doing enough, but that you’re probably not doing the right things.
Tip 2: Have Clarity About Your Goals
That brings us to tip 2. Which is, you need to have clarity about your goals. This feeling that you’re just checking things off your planner is stemming from a lack of clarity. I’m not just talking about your big, overarching goals, like becoming a doctor, owning my own practice, or retiring to Hawaii. Sometimes we set these big year-end goals or 3-5 year goals, and they’re a little bit…nebulous or vague. Then, we forget to get specific about the plan that’s going to get us there! When we lack that clarity, it makes it easy to fall into the trap of doing a lot of things, but not necessarily the right things. Because you’re not sure what the right things are! You’re just throwing spaghetti against the wall, hoping one of them is going to work. You’re not exactly sure what you’re trying to achieve. And I know- everybody talks about goal-setting. But, you’ve got to have clarity about your short-term goals as well and not just the long-term goals. You’ve got to get super granular about those short-term goals so that it makes what you’re executing on a daily and weekly basis make sense because it’s that related to that very specific goal. That’s where we get into SMART goals. If you haven’t heard of that, it’s a way of creating goals so that they’re not just super general. So that we can get very granular about them and you can create the clarity you need! Then you can really filter through all the things you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing anyway.
So to write a SMART goal, it needs to be specific- yep we talked about that. The “M” is for measurable. You want to be able to quantify your goal- you need to know when you’ve actually achieved it. Which brings us to the “A” for achievable. This is where sometimes I see people fall through. They will decide on a really lofty goal and it’s hard to translate that into a daily or weekly goal because it’s not achievable. So make sure your goals are achievable. The “R” is for relevant. Look at the big picture and consider all the other factors going on in your life. Is this a relevant goal for you? Lastly, the “T” is for time-bound. When are you going to accomplish this goal? Set a time limit. This is where the granularity is so key. If you’re setting SMART goals, then it’s easy to work backwards from those goals and create weekly goals that lead up to that, then daily goals that lead up to the weekly goal. This is why I really love Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus planner because it starts off every month and every quarter really focusing on the goals. Because our goals really should be informing what you do and not the other way around. So when you feel like you’re doing too much- it’s because you are! Most of what you are doing is likely not related in a very specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, and time-based fashion to your goals. That lack of clarity is what’s hindering you. So, you wanna get real crystal clear about what your goals are, then work backwards from there.
Tip 3: Consider Performing a Time Audit
My third tip is to consider performing a time audit. If you don’t know what that is you can read more about that here, but basically you just account for your time every day and figure out what exactly it is that you’re doing. Where is your time going? What is it that you’re doing that doesn’t feel like it’s helping you achieve what you want to achieve? I step people through this in my virtual assistant course and will really step people through this in my bigger course coming out in the fall about creating an organized and systemized life. Time audits are the first place to start. You’ve got to know how you’re spending your time currently, so that you can make those changes to it to maximize your effectiveness. You might be spending a lot of time on some time-wasters! Or things that you should be outsourcing or delegating. Until you figure out what it is you’re doing- we can’t make the necessary changes in order to improve how you’re spending your time.
Tip 4: Focus on the 80/20 Rule
Tip number four is focusing on the 80/20 rule. If you have a laundry list that is 20 pages long of to-do items, this is for you. You cannot do all of the things- we know that nobody can! You can certainly try…there are weeks that I slide backwards a little bit and start adding things to my to-do list that I know I shouldn’t. I think that somehow I have just achieved this super-human ability to get all these things done! But, no. We can’t. So, what you need to do is focus on the 20 percent of the things that you can do that will drive 80 percent of the results. That’s Pareto’s principle– I’ve done an entire podcast episode on this that I’ll link for you here. It is honestly one of the guiding principles of my life. When you look at things in this way, you only have to find what that 20 percent is in order to maximize your effectiveness and get 80 percent of that outcome. That’s huge! That means a lot of what you’re doing, you should not be doing. It’s very little return on your investment to do 80 percent of what you’re doing. Focus in on the 20 percent. The hard part, of course, is figuring out that 20 percent. That’s where getting clarity on your goals and figuring out where you spend your time can help you see what things you’re currently doing that have the biggest maximum output and outcome. You’ll really start to level up with your time management. Once you do that- you are going to feel so good! When you’ve closed your day out at 4p.m. and you’ve gotten the most important things done which push your business forward- that’s what we want. I’m not trying to teach you how to do all of the things- that is impossible. I cannot teach you that and nobody else can. What I can show you is how to understand what things you should be doing so that you can let the rest of it go. And that’s going to free up more time for you.
Tip 5: Narrow Your To-Do List to 3 Things
The fifth and final tip is to narrow your to-do list down to three things. They should be outcome oriented- don’t forget about those SMART goals! Narrow it down to three things. Some people call it the “Big Three” or the “Rule of Three,” but it’s basically a productivity system that will help you achieve your goals and get things done. So, instead of trying to achieve everything, you focus on your three most important goals. If you could only do three things today, what three would it be? Look at your to-do list. What are the three things that are essential for you to get done tomorrow? When you start training your brain to look at tasks in this manner, it helps you focus and understand what you need to be doing. It gives you better outputs because you are maximizing your productivity. Every single time you are feeling overwhelmed when you look at that to-do list, I want you to practice that rule of three. If you only got three things done today- don’t make it four or five- what three things are essential that you do? Then, guess what? All the rest of those things don’t need to be done tomorrow. They might not even need to be done ever. This is going to help you create that clarity that I was talking about. I have found it to be an amazing way to start living my day to day life because- you can do three things! That’s easy. Tackling a 20 item to do list- that’s hard. Doing three things? You got that. I felt a real shift in myself when I started to do this a few years ago. At then at end of the day, I felt like I had not gotten anything done that I was supposed to. I felt like I was working so hard but wasn’t sure if I was doing the right things. Now, it’s like night and day. I got my three things done and those were the things that were most important! This gives you permission to let the other things go because they were not as important as you initially thought.
So there you have it. Those are 5 tips to help you decrease your overwhelm of feeling too busy, yet accomplishing nothing.
Letting go of expectations. Others’ as well as yourself!
Create clarity around your goals by making them SMART goals.
Consider performing a time audit so you know how you’re spending your time.
Focus in on the 20 percent of the things you can do that drive 80 percent of your outcome.
Narrow it down to three things- just three things!
I hope you found this helpful and that there are some nuggets or pearls that you can take away from this. Hopefully this will help you with theos feelings of spinning your wheels aimlessly, not knowing if you’re accomplishing what you should be doing, and just feeling overwhelmed with everything. I’m hoping that I was able to share with you at least one or two things that you can implement- even this week! Don’t forget to tag me if you do and let me know how it goes! Until next time, it was good to see you.
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Hi! I'm Dr. Rupa Wong. Physician. Private Practice Owner. Mama to 3 kids. Managing Partner. Educator. Textbook Author. Conference Co-Founder. Mentor. I am more than just one thing, even as a doctor and I bet you are too. I would love to help you envision the life you want, and then get after it. What are you waiting for?
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