Time management Monday: Reduce morning overwhelm

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Here’s a familiar scenario: your day begins and already you feel like you’re getting pulled in different directions. Your email is calling to you, there’s work to be done, that important meeting starts in 10 minutes and your phone is ringing. How do you even know what to do first?

Here are steps you can take to prevent and reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed in the morning:

Plan your day the day before. Planning your day the afternoon or evening before will allow you to start your day knowing exactly what needs to be done and when, so you can hit the ground running. Set a timeline for your day that allows you to get your most important things done early in the day. Schedule time to do your tasks, taking into consideration how long each task will take. Make sure to pad your schedule and not have your day scheduled down to the minute, to allow for emergent tasks, surprises, and anything else that comes up during the day.

Do one thing at a time. More and more studies show how counterproductive multi-tasking is. Not only can it reduce your effectiveness, it’s also the quick ticket to feeling overwhelmed. Do one thing at a time, and focus just on that one thing.

Start tasks when you’re ready to complete them. Check your email when you are ready complete tasks that are generated from your emails. Call that client when you are ready to spend the time to have a real conversation and follow through on it. Start working on a project when you have the time and energy to do some meaningful work on it. When you start something and you aren’t prepared to finish it at that time, you’ll have to go back and finish it later. This becomes a redundant task that sends you on a circular path, revisiting the same tasks several times in your day and making you feel like you are running in circles.

By having a set plan for the day that you work through deliberately, you can focus on what you are doing instead of constantly reacting. Work your plan, and you’ll feel calm knowing you are doing exactly what you are meant to be doing at that moment.

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