What to do with an overwhelming to-do list?

Hello my fellow human Beings:

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the things on your to-do list?

Does your list of tasks seem so daunting you don’t know where to start?

Do you feel snowed under by the mounting obligations, responsibilities and chores on your plate?

Well, don’t get too freaked out and ready to run and hide.  There is a way to manage it.

First, JUST BREATHE.

Take a moment to close your eyes and inhale a deep, slow breath for a count of seven.  Now slowly exhale for a count of seven.  Repeat this several times until you can feel your body loosen its tense grip.  Don’t fight it, just breathe and relax.  Be calm and still for a few minutes.  (It won’t cost you anything. REALLY!  You can spare those few minutes from worrying about your to-do list to simply pause and breathe.)

Now, that you’ve cleared your head a bit from that worry-fog that was clouding your judgement and your perspective, you can proceed to the next step.

Second, CATEGORIZE AND PRIORITIZE.

Organize all your tasks into three categories: (1) small, (2) medium, and (3) large jobs.  Then, within each category, prioritize the sub-list from “needs immediate attention” to “It can wait another day.”  By organizing and ordering your list, you make the list more manageable and you can get a better perspective on the work ahead.  There may even be some things that are no longer a necessary assignment.

Third, TAKE ACTION.

Complete some small, but “needs immediate attention” tasks.  This will give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick off some of the work on your to-do list. You’re making some progress and moving slowly forward.  Now, you can take on some medium or large jobs that require immediate attention.  Not too much at once, but one task at a time.

Author, Elaine Maxwell, reminds us that we are the makers of our own destiny, good or bad, and our future, whether full of stress and worry or full of peace and happiness is of our own action and attitude.  She writes:

“My will shall shape my future.  Whether I fail or succeed shall be no [person’s] doing but my own.  I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze.  My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.”

Yes, you hold the key to what to do with your overwhelming to-do list.  You can choose to let it bury you in despair, worry and pressure.  Or you can choose to just breathe, categorize and prioritize, and take action and feel a sense of accomplishment as you slowly walk the path of your future.

It works the same with our meditation practice.  Some days (especially when we haven’t meditated for a while and we’re getting anxious about our to-do lists), we may feel overwhelmed with getting back to our practice and walking the path to spiritual enlightenment and a more abundant life.

The same ideology can be applied here.

First, just breathe. (By taking a few, conscious deep breaths in and out, you have started practising again.)

Second, categorize and prioritize the inventory of meditation techniques, tools and goals. (Categorize them into small, medium and large goals; or short-term, medium-term, and long-term time commitments.  Then prioritize each category based on the techniques and tools you find most beneficial for you, or the rewards of meditation that you most appreciate.)

Third, take action. (What are some small ways, places or regular, routine activities that you can combine with your meditation practice?  Perhaps, you can meditate each day while brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, or doing the dishes, or folding the laundry.  You can combine a chore from your to-do list with time to be mindful and meditate.  Hey, you’re now getting a double bang for your buck!)

In this way, you will be taking steps to progress along the path.  That’s how we get things done, one step at a time, one breath at a time.

In the end, it’s still your choice to make, or not make.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed, STOP, pause and start by just breathing.  Then make the choice(s) to help you continue on the path of abundant living.

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