Four Things

I have a tendency to forget things. Whether it’s a result of medication, too much on my mind, or just old age, I don’t know. As a coping mechanism, I try to make lists. But my lists get so long they get overwhelming. And when I’m overwhelmed, I don’t get anything done. (This happens a lot during mania – I start everything and finish nothing.) I also have to confess, I’m a lousy multitasker. I’m very detail oriented, sometimes to the brink of overkill, but I have to be able to focus and not be distracted by things. (This is also why I hate having a pass-through office; too many distractions.)

Since I’m easily overwhelmed, I need to find ways of avoiding it while still accomplishing something. I started doing something over the past couple days that I think I will continue. I make a list with four things that need to be done and I have one day to do them. There may be a hundred things that deserve to be on my list, but I narrow it down to four. I complete those four and then I feel a sense of accomplishment. I may even feel enough accomplishment to keep going with other tasks, but I have not committed myself to it, hence I can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

I don’t know if this will work long term, but at least it’s a start. Do you have any organization tips to share?

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5 thoughts on “Four Things

  1. Organization is my strong point, even when memory is not. Don’t look for a starting point, just dive in. That’s what I do when my list is overwhelming. Pick something, anything that can be easily accomplished in a short amount of time and just do it. The sense of accomplishment may be enough to get you to tackle more things, and harder things. For me, having the motivation to get past being overwhelmed is hard to come by. So, if I just do it that way, it at least gets the ball rolling.

    Beware. Don’t get too many balls rolling at once! If it’s a multi-step project that’s not time sensitive, shelve it. That’s too easy to get tangled into something else. And then it becomes even more overwhelming.

  2. I either create several lists, or color coordinate my list.

    So I’ll either have a “high priority” list, or those tasks are red on the list. Those are the ones that I expect myself to actually accomplish for the day.

    “Medium Priority” could be things that you’d like to accomplish by the end of the week, nothing pressing but needs to get done. These could be yellow on the list, or be on a separate, more long-term list. You could always draw from this list to create the daily, “high-priority” list.

    “Low Priority” I usually mark in green, or you could have a separate list of things that are projects you’d like to work on or start. Leisurely type activities.

    Keeping the items segregated by color helps me feel less overwhelmed because I only tend to react with anxiety to the red items on the list. If the red portion is still only 4 items long, you may not get as overwhelmed by the items on the leisurely portion of the list.

  3. Thank you both for the comments. I’ve tried your method, Lulu, and it only works for me to some extent. Then I start feeling like I’m drowning again. 😦 I like the color coded method, ColonialPunk – any excuse to use highlighters or colored pens works for me!

    One big problem I have is that the low priority stuff NEVER gets done. I have a paper to edit sitting on my desk at work that’s been a long time in the making. We’ve lived in this house for 3 years and never removed the hideous wallpaper in our bathroom. I realize I could change the priority listing, but when there’s a new fire every day, how do you justify moving something up? And at some point, you just need a break. I don’t know. I’m just not very good at organization. 😦

  4. I like this idea very much, and I need to figure out how to apply some version of it to my life. I actually had the motivation try to catch up on some things yesterday, so I made a list. It has 23 items on it! I’m calling it a “working list” to prevent being overwhelmed. So I know I need to complete everything on it, but I don’t have a set time frame, which really helps me. I guess it’s actually more of a memory aid than a to do list.

    I (obviously) don’t have any tips for you right now, but thank you, as your thoughts will help me. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Routine | Manic Monday

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