One most challenging aspects of learning something new is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what you don’t already know. Your to-do list is probably a mile long already. And if you’re like most people, you haven’t even made a dent in it. In fact, you’ve probably added a few additional items. Every day you fall further and further behind.
In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, authors Roy Baumeister and John Tierney state that the average person has 150 different tasks on his to-do list.
Think about your own. You have prospecting calls to make, proposals to write, emails to send and service issues to solve. Now, add all the new things you need to learn: new products, new markets, new pricing plans, new technology—the list goes on forever.
Then throw in the birthday card you need to send, the groceries you need to buy and the tax forms you need to submit.
Here’s what’s even more discouraging: Research shows the longer your to-do list, the less likely you are to get anything done. Overwhelm hits, and your head starts spinning. You become anxious that you won’t get it all done, and you can’t. It’s literally impossible.
Here are 3 strategies to keep you from having an unproductive day (and life):
1. Pick your top three priorities right away. Do this even before you check your email. Neuroscience tells us that prioritizing is one of the brain’s most taxing activities because it has to compare numerous items to one other and then decide. Even something as simple as checking emails will negatively impact your ability to prioritize.
Once you’ve settled on your priorities, sequence them and then get to work. Don’t jump from task to task. Do one item at a time.