Overwhelmed by your inbox? Fear not, there is a way to lessen the feeling of burden.


Can you imagine trying to swim in a pool full of molasses? It would be almost impossible. Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that it feels like you’re doing just that? You’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced life, many people feel like they’re drowning in their inboxes, so swamped with the huge number of things they need to get done, that they may as well ask themselves to do their morning swim in syrup!


But we don’t have to feel that way – there’s no law that says we have to. Here are some ideas to help lighten the load:


1)                  Accept the simple truth that you’ll never get it all done.


The saying goes: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’. Action-centred people will always find more things to do to replace the tasks already completed. If you give yourself permission to be human and not complete everything, you can spend less time worrying about what you haven’t done, and spend more time on the things that really matter.


2)                  Learn the most important word in the dictionary – NO.


It’s only two letters, but it’s amazing how difficult it is to use them when faced with another request from someone you simply don’t have time for. I’m not suggesting that you never do anything for anyone again, but before you say yes, take a breath and figure out where it will lie among your priorities.


3)                  Prioritize!


We’re all guilty of putting important tasks aside for an unspecified block of time we think we’ll have later, handling a few smaller, less important and easier items instead. Putting several lines through items on your ‘to do’ list may feel good at the time, but it doesn’t help you complete that big project. Take a few moments to plan each day starting with the most important jobs first, and stick to the plan.


4)                  Multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!


When working on an important project, keep your focus on the task in front of you, instead of worrying about everything else in your in-tray. It not only adds stress to your life, it also compromises your ability to do the best you can on a project. It will also slow you down and mean you spend longer on the task and end up getting less done overall.


5)                  Be the boss of your attitude.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s almost certainly because you let that feeling into your life. You can choose to feel like you’re swimming through molasses, or you can choose to take a deep breath and focus on things one at a time. When your ‘to do’ list makes you feel out of control, overwhelmed or even emotional, try to take a step back and recognize that your emotional responses are your own choice. By taking these negative and energy-sapping feelings and refusing to give them space in your head, you can enjoy mastering your ‘to do’ list, one thing at a time. It’s your call, which would you prefer?

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Florida-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is the author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at MarshaEgan.com, where you can also read her blog. To listen ... (Read More)

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