What to do when everything is a mess
I know you know what I'm talking about.
You have a million things to do.
You're not sure what thing to start with.
There isn't a clear path for you to take action.
Your tech is driving you crazy.
And you have exactly ZERO hours to fix it.
It just feels messy and chaotic and you're getting a flood of chest-tightening panic-infused thoughts.
I have been there my friend, trust me. But, it's no place to live.
For the purposes of today's blog post, it doesn't matter how you got there, let's just get you out of that situation ASAP.
Here's what I ACTUALLY do when this happens to me.
And I'm going to show you my process using Asana (my go-to task and project management software). But. I'll also give you all the steps here in case you're not Asana-obsessed like I am.
Here is my 6-step, 30 minute shit-storm-sorter exercise.
(I'll think of a better name one day ;).
Step 1: Make time [2 minutes]
I've said it before and I'll say it again - busy is a choice.
You will honest-to-Beyonce waste more time spinning and stressed than you ever will taking the time to sort it out. So, find a window in your calendar (read: make a window) and figure out when you can take the time to walk through these steps.
Better yet, in that moment of chaos and overwhelm - stop everything and do it then.
Step 2: Braindump [10 minutes]
Get every little tiny thing out of your head and into your day-to-day task management app / tool / notebook and if you don't use one, then start with a blank sheet of paper.
If you like, group the items together in areas of your life - work, self, family, finances - whatever areas work for you.
Step 3: Ask yourself these 2 questions [2 minutes]
The first question to ask yourself... Is there anything on this list that simply does not matter and if you didn't do it, nothing would change?
(If yes, delete it, scratch it off, let it go).
If things like "clean up google drive" are on your to-do list.. let it go.
Of course we all want perfectly organized, minimalist storage drives but at what cost? Is it really that important?
The less niggling things you have on your mind, the more freedom you will feel.
One way to help your brain let it go for the example above is to create a folder called "Archive" and just dump everything you don't use on a weekly basis into that folder and start fresh. If you need it, it's there but it's out of view.
If you really, really, really can't let it go then create the archive folder but then a follow up task to go through "Someday."
If you're using Asana, you can create a tag for this kind of task called "someday", "boring" or "low priority" and when you have some free time or your brain isn't working but you want to work, you can click on the tag and pull up these kinds of tasks. Or even have a "Someday" project that you put things with no time frame but that you don't want to lose.
OR, put a VA tag on it for your future assistant to tackle ;).
The second question to ask yourself... Are you willing to continue letting your guilt of not doing enough and your never-ending to-do list rule your thoughts and your life?
I didn't think so. Let's make a plan that actually works with your life.
Step 4: Sort & prioritize [15 minutes]
Ok, now you're left with that list of the mess of things that are stressing you out that you really do want to address and/or get done.
We need to figure out what needs to be done and in what order it needs to be done because...
... yes you are an amazing human capable of great things but you are not a magical wizard.
If you haven't already, group your braindump items in areas of your life and then within each area, decide what HAS to happen today, this week, and beyond this week.
This isn't what you'd LIKE to get done, this is what you HAVE to get done.
While you're doing this, remind yourself that your life isn't about getting as many things done as possible.
Ask yourself how can you make progress on your goals today WITHOUT sacrificing today for some distant future moment where everything is perfect (spoiler alert: that moment never ever ever comes).
Using Asana to look at each task, assign a due date and decide what to work on first is an absolute game-changer.
Here's how I sort and prioritize the items using Asana:
Step 5: Schedule that sh*T [5 minutes]
You've now decided exactly what is most important and in what order you're going to tackle your priorities. In order to actually do the things, you need to make space in your calendar for them - schedule everything on your list for the next week and make a task for the end of the week to schedule out next week.
If you decide that writing is important to your business but you don't schedule time to write it'll just be one of those things that hangs over your head and stresses you out. Decide what's important, rank it among other important things and get that sh*t done.
Step 6: Take ACTION [ongoing]
Once you do this exercise and your day and week progress, you'll be tempted to add a bunch of new things or you'll get sidetracked.
Trust your plan, take action on the things you outlined and keep coming back to your plan, keep adding to it, refining it.
BUT make sure that anything new that crosses your desk is slotted in among your other priorities.
Just because someone sends you an email asking something of you does not mean that you have to drop everything you're doing.
It doesn't mean you'll never end up in that place again, but if you do - you know how to get yourself out. Quickly.
So, that covers it, my 6-step, 30 minute shit-storm-sorter exercise (ok, it's 34 minutes, you caught me but 30 minutes sounds better, doesn't it?).
I know this isn't easy but I promise you, taking the time to sort through your priorities will alleviate that crazy chaotic feeling and will move you from drowning in busywork to smart action-taking.
You got this, yo!