I am gathering resources to make it through the final week of school. Not actual learning resources, but personal resources, energy, stamina, resiliency… remembering to breathe…
I didn’t do much this weekend… I am keeping some parts of myself, my resources, in reserve…
Sometimes at this point, when I think of all the things I have left to complete, it can seem like an impossible task… so I have a few strategies I thought I might share…
Not the First Time:
I remind myself that I feel like this every year at the end of term. I used to feel like this in university, heck – even in high school, and I feel it now at the end of my 26th year of teaching. I think of similar situations – and remind myself that I got through them and I tell myself that as overwhelming as it may be, this is a short-term feeling and that it will not last forever.
I work to think about the next thing I have to accomplish… One next thing – rather than thinking about all of it. I do that one thing and then move on to the next. This helps me maintain focus, which is especially important for me because I am not a particularly effective multitasker.
Lists, Lists, Beautiful Lists:
I make use of lists – extensive use of lists, which helps me with both setting priorities and with tackling the feeling of being overwhelmed. I get it all down – so it does not keep swirling in my head in the present – and I don’t have to try to keep it there so as to not lose track. Once it is on the list – I can organize and put it aside (out of my thinking) until the right time. This calms me…
Lists help me set priorities:
To make this work I need a plan – and for me that plan is a series of lists and sub-lists in my day planner… and a liberal sprinkling of post-it notes.
I can see the scope of what needs to be accomplished and then I can work to organize my time and fit tasks to the amount of time and the logical ordering of the tasks in a temporal way – and also in terms of importance.
There is an ordering in terms of some tasks needing to take place prior to others – some of this is just plain logic – and some requirements are related to other outside timelines and pressures.
I use a calendar to do this…
I also have a simple system of boxes that I draw beside each and every task = ❒
I check off the box when the task is completed = √
These are then further coded…
I put an X in the box if the task becomes irrelevant or is cancelled = X
I circle the box if it is an emerging priority left over from a previous day – or for that day and if it is a MUST DO = 〇
No Shoulding on yourself:
I think of my lists with another conceptual layer as well. After years of practice – this is somewhat internalized: I have a must do – should do – and could do ranking to my tasks.
I used to write my lists this way: The must do list was that day’s tasks – the should do list – was in essence planned for the following day – and the could do list followed those on the next day. The idea with this system is that the should dos – become the must dos the following day and the could dos become the should dos…and so on…
I remind myself that it is unhealthy to be shoulding on myself – as I work to be realistic, and positively frame my limitations.
I flip thought previous weeks in my planner – and if there is a task which has been carried over and then finally accomplished – I make a little smiley face in the box. This tells me it wasn’t done that week – but it was eventually accomplished. I also sometimes find a task that has not been completed, and that in the midst of busy, somehow fell off the side of my desk. If it is still relevant, I add that task to this week’s plan.
It takes a little time to do this – but I gain way more time and calm and focus – and relief from feeling overwhelmed in doing so. As I work to tackle the next thing – instead of thinking of all I need to do… the payback for me is enormous.Aaaack! Too much to do!! Deep breath… and again… and other strategies…
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)
Do you find that a long list causes paralysis? We are trying to use lists to help my husband and son, but at a certain point, the list becomes so long that it is overwhelmings. So when confronted by an unachievable list they feel more stress rather than less.
Yes, Ari! Completely YES to that! I can feel immobilized and ready to give up.
I sometimes make a smaller list at that point of the most time critical things – and I may even add things to that list that I have already done… to get me started:
Make a new list ✔
or I sometimes break larger tasks into smaller parts – that I can get done – so I feel like I am making progress, and then large projects don’t seem so insurmountable…
And sometimes… I don’t get everything done…
And that is okay… ♥
Reblogged this on Sportynikstars Tips.
Hi, Leah! I love your post. I am somewhat challenged with staying organized, since I have so much going on in my life. I currently use todoist.com (free) to manage all my lists. Love your perspective!
Thank you so much, Steve!
I will check out the link. I have recently seen this one as well, which is recommended by an adult ADD group: http://putthingsoff.com/
In all honesty, I am a little worried about doing one more thing on-line – and thus am inclined at this point to stick to my paper lists and books and notes. You never know though… maybe when I get a new phone I will change my tune. (Right now I have an old flip phone that I swear is run by wee hamsters running really fast in a tiny wheel…)
I know what you mean sometimes I think of all the things i have to do and I get overwhelmed. Thanks for the tips I will use them all.