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We’ve all been there: bombarded with obligations, a mile-long to do list, and no way to catch a break! You know the times where it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day?
Sound familiar? You might have too much on your plate! And it can get overwhelming REAL quick if you’re just going through the motions without any real strategy to manage what’s on your plate.
I’ve even found myself in a phase right now where there is A LOT on my plate. But I realize I can’t continue to go about my routine without making any changes, or else I’ll find myself on the fast track to burnout.
You don’t want to find yourself burnt out, either! So here are 8 ways to manage all the chaos when there’s simply too much on your plate. Take these steps before you even get close to that burnout point!
This post is all about managing too much on your plate.
1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
There is no getting around this: you MUST prioritize what’s on your plate!
I read something recently that really struck a chord for me. It was about how if you’re involved in multiple things, you can’t expect yourself to give 100% to them all.
That doesn’t mean we have to give up on or cut out certain things we’re doing. It’s just that we should cut back our time or efforts to the things that aren’t at the top of our priority list.
If you’re busy with many other things outside of your day job, you’ll need to decide if it’s the day job that takes the biggest priority, or something else.
For example, if you’re growing a business while still working at a traditional job, see if you can cut back on your hours at the traditional job.
Or if getting the business off the ground is causing you a lot of stress, you might want to prioritize marketing that business on just a couple platforms, instead of every platform out there.
The goal is to prioritize and cut back where you can to alleviate some unnecessary stressors.
2. Have a planning strategy that works for YOU!
Whether this is time blocking, a to-do list with no set times for when to complete tasks, or a general weekly task list, try out different approaches to managing your schedule and see what sticks.
You may benefit from the structure of time blocking, or you may do better with a more open-ended approach.
If you’re unsure of what’s best for you, I recommend trying out one new method per month to give you a complete idea of whether or not a certain planning strategy is working for you.
The best way to keep track of your planning and scheduling, especially when trying out different methods, is to use a planner! Make sure to grab one below!
Clever Fox Planner (this made Good Housekeeping’s top 15 best planners)
Erin Condren LifePlanner (also in Good Housekeeping’s top 15 best planners)
Full Focus Planner (NY Magazine’s top 32 best planners)
Declutter in SEVERAL different ways! Get rid of the physical, emotional, and mental clutter that is robbing you of your productivity and efficiency.
Your desk might be a mess, your calendar may be all over the place, and you may have distracting thoughts of self-doubt swarming your headspace.
You don’t need to tackle everything at once. Just start somewhere with decluttering one area. This could be:
- Your workspace
- The apps in your phone
- Your calendar/planner
- Your notifications
- Your closet
4. Break down what’s on your plate
So, say you have some BIG tasks that might take several sittings to complete. Break this down into very small tasks within themselves.
For example, instead of “launch website,” break this down into tasks like “draft the basic parts of the home page,” “spend an hour reading articles on basic SEO,” “pick out a website theme,” etc.
Because if you put “launch website” in your planner, you’ll never realistically be able to get such a large task done in one sitting. So then you’ll end up writing “launch website” over and over again on multiple days and it will feel like a giant, never ending task!
We want to break our tasks down into the most digestible chunks possible.
I know having even more tasks in your planner may, at first, feel like it is only contributing to having too much on your plate. But actually, it will make everything feel much more manageable and practical.
5. Accept that 25 things can’t be done in one day
This might be hard to swallow when you’re ambitious about getting everything done.
But the reality is that we tend to overestimate how much we can get done while underestimating just how much time and energy these tasks will take.
This is why 8pm often rolls around and we panic because we “didn’t get everything done today!”
If you consistently aren’t getting everything done that you set out to do, that’s a good sign that you are putting WAY too much on your plate (and namely, your daily to-do list!).
We have to accept that things take time (and way more of it than we think!). Instead, aim to shoot for only 3-4 things MAX on your to-do list for any given day.
And if these 3-4 things are all very time consuming, you may want to cut that down even more. I know I can’t always get my 3-4 things done within a day when each of them take a few hours or more.
6. Learn to say no when there’s too much on your plate
You have to get comfortable with saying no if there is too much on your plate.
It can be tempting to volunteer yourself for an extra task at work in hopes of impressing your boss, or to simply take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way in fear of missing out.
But you can’t say yes to everything and still maintain your sanity when there is already so much going on.
Saying no when you know you can’t take on anything else won’t do significant damage, I promise! In fact, you may be saving yourself the damage it would cause from being overwhelmed!
Hey, are you struggling with your mental health? Or just want to get better at tackling life’s daily stressors? Talking to an online therapist can really help you out. I always recommend Online Therapy because it’s a comprehensive, effective online therapy toolkit based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy–the leading standard in psychotherapy) at an affordable monthly cost.
7. Acknowledge what you have accomplished
This is so important. We tend to focus more on how we’ve “fallen short” instead of being proud of what we have done!
So you didn’t accomplish everything on your to-do list today. But what have you done so far in the past week, or month? Probably a LOT more than you’re giving yourself credit for.
Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to remind you just how much progress you’re making.
I’ll rant to my boyfriend about how I can’t get everything done, but then he reminds me that he sees me working hard for sometimes 9-10 hours a day. And even on weekends.
Now, am I laser-focused that entire time, being productive every single minute? No! But he’s right–I’m getting a lot more done than I’m acknowledging.
And you probably are too, so pat yourself on the back for whatever it is you were able to do!
8. Stop thinking. Just get started.
I’m currently reading this amazing book called The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even If You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me. This book mentioned something that really rang true for me.
The author talks about inertia (remember “an object in motion stays in motion?”) and how once you’ve started on a task and gotten past the initial grunt of starting, it gets easier to power through the task. Just like inertia.
But it’s the starting of the task that’s always the hardest part, right? The process of starting can be the biggest energy suck of it all.
However, if you sit there and think and dread the task, you’re making it feel worse than it really is. If you just push a little harder to get yourself through the “start” phase, then you’ve made it through half the battle.
Remind yourself how much easier the task will become as soon as you get over the hump of starting. It really is half the battle.
Having too much on your plate can easily make us feel very overwhelmed. But taking action to manage it by making some adjustments to your approach will ease the stress of it all.
Taking simple steps like prioritizing, finding the right planning strategy, and just getting started will go a long way in making things feel a little more manageable!
Which of these steps will you start implementing to manage having too much on your plate? Let me know in the comments!
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