Recollect and Relax

Miles Burke

A few days ago, I was a bundle of stress. See, I’m about to take a trip overseas which means I had two weeks worth of work to plan and do, as well as articles to write, clients to contact, work to delegate, as well as home duties and more.

It started feeling overwhelming – I had so much to do, where should I start? I was trying to cross the tasks off in my head as I went, and it felt each time I managed to complete one thing, two more reared their heads.

I stopped and wrote a list. A really simple, scribbled on a blank sheet, to do list. It took me five minutes, and I was just about completely relaxed at the end of it. I’ve written about to do lists before, however I don’t believe I have really encountered that moment of clarity on why a to do list is great besides knowing what you need to do.

Now, I know a good to do list helps you not only concentrate but relax at the same time. See, I ended up with quite a long list – 30 or 40 items, although many were quite small in time requirements.

I wrote in brackets next to each task how much time I needed to give myself, so the list looked a little bit like:

Call Bill at Company about proposal (10 mins)
Email forms back to bank (15 mins)
Send email newsletter copy over to Sarah (10 mins)
Write up proposal on new project (1 hour)
Get travel adaptor (20 mins)
Buy travel insurance (30 mins)

It was easy for me to see, reviewing this list that there was about 30 hours of allocated time. Given I had at least eight days, including the weekend, I could easily get through of it before I left. That sense of burden lifting off me was great, and also reassuring; I felt I suddenly had more energy to get these tasks done.

The next time you’re feeling under enormous pressure, take five minutes and write a list. Before you know it, that mountain of work you’ll never get through is a manageable list of tasks, and you get a smile back on your face.

Try it – it’s a fantastic five-minute investment!