1. Realize that you can’t do it all right now
You might have a hundred things on your to-do list. The moment we admit to ourselves that we have too much we’re trying to cram in with too few hours in the day, it becomes obviously that we need to clear some clutter.
The key is to prioritize with mindfulness.
Notice all the things you’re doing in a single day. How much time is spent browsing the internet? What websites are you visiting? How much TV are you watching? How much time spent on social media or texting? How much time are you cleaning? Notice the time wasters and begin by eliminating as many needless distractions as possible.
Then look at that long to-do list. Realize you can’t do everything right now. You can’t even do them all in the next 24 hours. Realistically, you can only do one thing right now. Instead of thinking that you need to do everything right now, pick just one thing, and do it with your fullest presence.
2. Choose a task that has the largest effect.
When you’re overwhelmed, it’s tempting to want to check a ton of minute tasks off of your to-do list. It feels productive, but really it’s just being busy to be busy. This could be cleaning (I use this one to procrastinate a lot), doing laundry, responding to Facebook messages, and so on.
Instead, pick a task from your list that will have the highest impact and largest effect. Since you can only do one task at a time, pick a good one. Something that will move you forward in your life, work, relationship, or goals. Take some time to really think about it. It could be writing the email that could get you a new job, working on a project, going to the gym, prepping holiday dinner, or even spending uninterrupted time with a loved one.
It may not seem obvious at first, but it will come to you.
Sure, the dishes still need to get washed, the laundry folded, and emails checked. But do those things as a mindful break between the larger items.
3. Re-frame and let go.
Often how busy we think we are magnifies how overwhelmed we feel. That is, the stories we tell ourselves about life can dramatically effect our stress levels. This is where practice a re-frame changes our story.
Instead of seeing your life as busy and overwhelming, choose to see it as rich and interesting. If you are fortunate enough to have people you want to spend time with, work to do, and opportunities – then choose to see it that way. And remember your life is only as busy as YOU decide to make it.
Notice what you think you need to do, which is your ideal, and let go of it. Instead, be open to the reality that’s right in front of you: you can only do one task at a time.
We don’t have to waste our lives being stressed out and overwhelmed. Instead we can smile, let go, and put our full attention on the task, person, or moment in front of us.