Feeling Overwhelming? Practice Mindful Focus

You have a to-do list that scrolls on for days. It all keeps piling up, and it can feel overwhelming. How do you keep up with it all?

First, pick out the things that need to be done today. Just have up to 5 things on your plate. Not everything needs to be done today.

Second, push some things to tomorrow and the rest of the week. If you have deadlines that can be pushed back (or renegotiated), do that. Spread the work out over the week, even into next week. What needs to be done tomorrow? What can wait a day or two longer?

And third, eliminate what you can. It might mean telling some people that you can’t take on this project after all, or that you need to get out of the commitment that you said you’d do. Yes, this is uncomfortable. For now, just put them on a list called, “To Not Do,” and plan to figure out how to get out of them later.

OK, you have some breathing room and a manageable list now! Let’s shrink that down even further and just pick one thing and give it your focus. Clear everything else away. When you’re done, you can switch to something else. But don’t allow yourself to switch until then. By closing off all exits, by choosing one thing, by giving yourself completely to that thing … you’re now in a different mode that isn’t so stressful or spread thin.

Schedule the time to simplify and you can then not have to worry about the things on your To Not Do list until then.

Go through the rest of the day with an attitude of “mindful focus.” That means that you are doing one thing at a time, being as present as you can, switching as little as you can.

Summing-up: As you practice mindful focus, you’ll learn to practice doing things with an open heart, with curiosity and even joy. Try these one at a time as you get to do each task on your list. You’ll find that you’re not so overloaded, but that each task is just perfect for that moment.

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