How to Deal with “To Do” List Overwhelm

relaxed-at-work-feet-up-250Most of you know I was laid off from day job in 2011 and been helping small business owners develop their core values, improve their sales pages and create amazing product launches. The business has been going well, but there are struggles too. Last week my son was sick and I had to keep him home with me. Every hour of work time is precious to me, but like any family man with strong family values my son comes first.

He stayed home with me last Tuesday and Wednesday. He broke his fever on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon he was back to his happy self.

On Wednesday night I looked at my “to do” list that had piled up. I felt behind. Overwhelmed. I felt this panicky feeling bubbling up inside me. You probably know that I like to call this my “arch nemesis”. That little negative inner voice that tries to scare the heck out of me every chance he gets.

Take Back Control

Instead of letting my arch nemesis take over I looked at where this stress was coming from. I began to feel like I didn’t choose to stay at home with my son. This made me feel even worse. I was lying to myself to motivate myself to be more focused. It wasn’t working. I was freaking out. I couldn’t focus.

As you know fear isn’t a very good motivator or at least too much of it is bad. There is a difference between good stress (Eustress) and overwhelming stress (distress).

I had a little chat with my arch nemesis. We went for a short walk.

I needed to readjust my attitude. Taking 15 minutes out of my day to do this saved me from wasting hours of work worrying instead of actually getting something accomplished.

Conversation with My Arch Nemesis

Me: “It’s ok to feel behind.”

Arch nemesis: “No it’s not. You have 100 things to do to take your business to the next level.”

Me: “I agree, but who is more important my “little dude” or the work?

Arch nemesis: “I hear you, but…what about the blog post, client call and proposal that you have to do today?”

Me: “They are all at the top of my list. I’ll get it done. I have 4 hours. If you ease up on my a little bit I’ll be able to get a lot more done.”

Arch Nemesis: “Ok, what about the first draft of the landing page you have to write?”

Me: “Number 4 on my list and I’ll get it done. I can only do one thing at a time.”

Arch Nemesis: “Hmmm, what about your ebook that you wanted to outline?”

Me: “That’s going to have to wait until tomorrow.”

Arch Nemesis: “What?! But you were so looking forward to it and once it’s done you can get started on it and that’s going to really help level you up.”

Me: “I know, but we did what was right. Our little dude needed us. Right?”

My Arch Nemesis puts his head down in defeat.

Arch Nemesis: “Ok, you promise to work on it for at least an hour tomorrow?”

Me: “I promise.”

After our conversation was over I felt much better.

It’s amazing what a walk with your inner arch nemesis can do to improve your perspective.

Your Turn

What do you do to bring your “To Do” anxiety back under control?