Stress Managment and Mastery: Too Much to Do Stress - Write it Down, Break it Down, Knock it Down

"I've got too much to do, I've just got too much to do!"

We have all said it and we have all lived it. I call this particular kind of stress Too Much To Do stress, or TMTD stress. When we feel TMTD stress, we typically have one or both of the following reactions. We either just say the heck with it and let everything pile up. Or we try to do it all and make ourselves and those around us miserable.

Another, more powerful and useful solution is to write it down, break it down, and knock it down.

Write it down

When we take the time to write down all the things we have to do, we reap at least two key benefits:

1)We keep it from running around in our heads over and over again.

2)We are able to put it outside of ourselves, which allows us to step back and get a better picture of what is in front of us.

It's a cop-out to claim you don't have time to write it all down. You are right that it will take a few minutes, but they are minutes well-spent that will save you time and stress.

Get a sheet of paper and divide it into four columns. In the first column list all the things that you need to do. They are now on paper, which makes them much more manageable than when they are taking up space in your head.

When we continually say "I've got too much to do," we see all of our tasks as one huge unmanageable job. It's like trying to eat a pizza in one big bite. You choke and can't do it. We eat a pizza by cutting it into slices and then eating it a bite at a time. Do the same thing with your to-do list.

After you have written goals down, the next step is to break them into manageable pieces. You can get a lot done a little bit at a time.

So now, back to your sheet of paper. In the first of the four columns, you have written down all the tasks you want to complete. The next three columns are for each of the next three days, over which you are going to divide all the tasks on your to-do list. Break your tasks down by scheduling some on day one, some on day two and some on day three.

In this way, you have taken this long list of things to do, and broken them down into manageable pieces that you can do over three or more days.

Once you have written it down and broken it down, you will have renewed energy to get things done, to knock these things down.

If you notice that some of these items no longer seem as important, discard them and move onto the next task.

It's important to remember that if you do not get everything done that is scheduled for one day, the course of history will probably not be affected. Just do it the next day. Remember, the point of this exercise is to reduce your stress, not increase it.

Write it down, break it down, knock it down, and send that Too Much To Do stress packing.

For more leading edge tips and tools for managing and mastering stress, you are invited to visit Jeff Herring's

In The News:

Stress Management for Nurses
Stress Management  Penn: Office of University Communications
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Stress management tips for anxious attorneys  North Carolina Lawyers Weekly
Order's up!  School News Network
Self-care for busy people (like you)  Michigan Lawyers Weekly

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