How to Overcome the Stress from Your Long To-Do List

Allison Graham

Don’t we all have a long to-do list? If you’re an entrepreneur or a professional, you probably do. And most of the time, we feel like we’re drowning from too many things to do and we succumb to destructive stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So, in this article, I’ll share tips on how to overcome to-do list stress that could clear the path to further growth and success.

Destructive Stress vs Good Stress

Stress is something all people experience at least once in their life. More so for business owners, professionals, and parents.

Most people tend to bucket these overwhelming feelings into the word ‘stress’, but what most don’t know is there are two kinds of stress – destructive and good.

Good stress is anything that will inspire, focus, and keep you out of danger. We feel this stress in the moment, and it drives our energy upward to keep us safe. But once we know we’re safe, we calm down and move forward.

Destructive stress is anything that will take you away from the sweet spot of performance, productivity, and profitability. We experience a hyper stress state and we never get to come back down.

Most of the time, we pair a long list of to-do list with destructive stress. And when we do this, it’s actually counterproductive. It can lead to burnout and the ultimate outcome of unhappiness and loss of fulfillment.

How to Overcome To-Do List Stress

The first thing to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed seeing a long list of things to do is to be in the present moment. You have to focus only on the now. However, what happens is – we attach our whole to-do list with the now. The now does not exist without the list.

What you should do is to look at the to-do list objectively. Detach it from yourself and from your emotions. Think of your to-do list as just a list of the things you need to get done – no more, no less.

Once you’ve detached yourself from your to-do list, use the problem-solving framework:

Step #1: Do a situational awareness – what are the things you need to do? It’s best to put a timeline on the tasks you need to complete. You can do the 75-minute focused work, then 15-minute break cycle.

Step #2: Is there something keeping you from checking things off the to-do list? Think, is it another task you just need to do? An obstacle you need to solve? Or an adversity you need to process? Put your emotions to what matters.

Step #3: Strategize and solve. Prioritize the tasks based on urgency. Solve the obstacles you’re facing and move forward. Facing adversities? Sit and process it.

Looking at your to-do list, are you making it harder to get it done or is there really something you need to deal with emotionally first?

Final Thoughts

When you look at your long to-do list objectively, you get to focus and be aware if you’re actually making it harder to get done. If you’re letting things fall into the cracks and you’re emotionally connected to your to-do list – no wonder you feel like you’re drowning. At the end of the day, your to-do list is not a predator. It’s just something that needs to get done.

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