What to do when you find your To-Do list too Overwhelming to Manage

Do you ever get overwhelmed looking at your expansive, never-ending to-do list and feel like you need 1,000 more hours in the day to get it done? Yeah, me too. Especially now in quarantine.

I would look at my homework, projects and readings assignments that were all due over the next few days; combined with my housekeeping list of laundry, cleaning my room and wiping down the kitchen floors, only to immediately freak out because I knew it wasn’t all going to get done. In this constant cycle of freaking out, I was trying to do everything perfectly, getting stressed but somehow managing to get it all done and repeating it all again the next week.

That crazy cycle has pretty much been how my college career had gone until about three weeks ago when Micheal Felder, college football analyst, joined my Writing for Electronic Media class as a guest speaker. I had done a little research on him before his visit and noticed the man did everything. Written, broadcasted, podcasted, you name it, he’s done it. So when my professor, Jonathan Beecher Field, opened the discussion up to questions, my first question was, “How do you manage to do it all?” 

I can tell you right now; I don’t know if he is a mind reader or not, but his response was exactly what I needed to hear. Felder said he also struggled with trying to do everything and would burn himself out in the process, but he recently adopted a new mindset that he found very successful, and it involves both house chores and work so he could get it all done. For this blog’s purpose, I’ll call it the One-to-One list. 

In simple terms, you switch between work and house activities. Felder gave my class an example from his life, mentioning that when he completes a task for work, whether he was recording a podcast or just researching for an article, he will then complete a home task like cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming. This way, Felder gets his work done while also saving his sanity and completing housework so his house can remain organized and he doesn’t have to worry about being unproductive because he feels like his home is a mess. 

It was music to my ears. For so long, I had been trucking through all of my school work, disregarding my house worklist, leaving my room a mess and productivity at an all-time low, or falling behind on my school work to clean my living space.

So I decided to try out Felder’s One-for-One list idea. For the past month and a half, I have done a school activity, project or whatever it may be and then done something around my apartment, workout or hang with friends. It ensures productivity and leaves me with enough of a mental break to feel refreshed enough to go back to my school work. 

And it works very well. I end up getting more done than I did when I was trying to cross items off my to-do list one at a time. Now, my sanity is saved, my room is clean and I get all of my work done on time. Over the past month and a half, I have found it essential to remember that there is a balance between home and school and not everything may get done perfectly, but I am getting it done, and that is as much as I can ask of myself, especially in a pandemic. I have been able to look at my ever expanding to-do list and think that, yes, I can get it all done, instead of overwhelm myself with unnecessary expectations of what my day will look like. So, the next time you find yourself stressed and unable to decide how you will get everything on your to-do list done, use Felder’s One-to-One idea and see what you can get knocked out! 

Written By: Elizabeth O’Donnell


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