Are You Drowning in Tasks?
Do you often find yourself drowning in overwhelm, buried under the weight of too much to do, and feeling the pressures of all the demands places on you?
You don’t have time or energy to do All. The. Things.
No matter how much you check off your to-do list, it only gets longer. Whenever you start to get traction on a project, someone interrupts you with an urgent demand.
When Getting Things Done Isn’t Getting it Done
Perhaps you’ve tried the various solutions. You may be an ace at Getting-Things Done, but getting things done does not always lead to progress. It’s hard to manage time when you feel compelled to respond to every urgency.
Your attempts to sort tasks into the urgent/importance matrix fail because everything feels urgent and important.
As a result, you’re feeling stuck. You’re spinning wheels.
The Question That Sends You into Overwhelm
The question most people ask as they go through their day is “what do I need to do?” If you’re into the GTD method, you might ask “what’s my next action?” — which is a variation of the same thing.
Where You Look for Your Actions
Perhaps you look for your next actions on your to-do list.
When you don’t find an answer to that question on your to-do list, you likely go looking in your email. Email is almost always filled with more things to do. In fact, that’s pretty much what email is: a list of task for you to do.
In the moment, you’ll get a quick hit of dopamine as you see the new messages and find a juicy item that needs your attention. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you check it off your list.
But in the long run, it leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Because you know you didn’t make progress on what really mattered to you.
The Tyranny of the To-Do List
I know some people feel better when they make a list. In fact, some people even add things to their list that they’ve already done, just so they can check them off.
(If you are one of those people, I would really love to know more about this phenomenon.)
Personally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed with too many action items, making a list only makes it worse. It’s like every action item I write down sparks thoughts of 10 more that previously weren’t in my consciousness. It becomes too much for my ADHD brain to handle; my mind literally shuts down.
I struggled with this for a long time before finding a better approach.
Solution: Ask A Better Question
You can to get your productivity back on track by asking a better question.
Instead of asking “what do I need to do next?” ask
What is the result I want?
I learned this approach from Tony Robbins; it’s the core of his life management system, called RPM. RPM stands for Rapid Planning Method or Results, Purpose, Massive Action.
RPM differs from most productivity methods by shifting the focus from tasks/actions to results.
The Fundamentals of RPM
The core concept behind the RPM method is that for any result you want, there are many actions you can take to get it. But you don’t need to take all the actions.
The Pareto Principle teaches us that 80% of our results come from 20% of our actions. Once you know the outcome or result you want, you can determine which 20% of the actions on your list will get you there.
You can cut down on your list further by delegating some of those actions to others.
You don’t have to do it all.
Shift Your Focus from Tasks to Outcomes
Whenever I start to feel sucked into the spinning wheel of “so much to do that I don’t even know where to start,” I come back to this first central question of the RPM method:
What is the result I want?
Then I focus on taking one next step to get there.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by too much to do, try shifting your focus from tasks to outcomes, and see how that feels.
What strategies do you use when you feel overwhelmed by too much to do?
And do you add things that you’ve already done to your list, just to have checked items?
Please share in the comments!