Feeling Overwhelmed? Three Steps to Developing a ‘To-Don’t’ List

October 11, 2017

checklist-1919328_1280If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, you are not alone.  According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.

Dale Carnegie was a stress management pioneer, having published his best-selling book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, way back in 1948.  His principles for preventing fatigue and worry have enabled millions of people to overcome stress and worry—and ultimately stop feeling overwhelmed.  For example, ‘Do things in the order of their importance,’ is a principle that enables employees to prioritize and in most cases, persevere.  At some point in a person’s career, the list of to-do’s is too long and it’s time to develop a ‘To-don’t’ list.

Here are three questions to ask yourself in order to develop a ‘to-don’t list so you can maintain productivity while minimizing stress.

  1. What are the main priorities of your current role? Think about everything you for which you are responsible at work, and list them in order of importance.  For example, if you’re responsible for managing your company’s sales team, include all of the activities you do to motivate, measure and improve your team in order to meet sales goals.
  2. What are your goals for your current role? If you haven’t already defined your current career goals, now is the time to determine where you want to go and grow.  For example, if you’re yearning for a promotion, what goals must you attain in your current role to increase the probability of being promoted?

Consider what you don’t want to do; for example, if you’re an introvert and have zero desire to ever manage others, this is important to list.  Here’s why—let’s say you spend time helping others on a daily basis.  While this is a valiant effort, it could be undermining your ability to perform your current job responsibilities to the best of your ability.  In this case, ‘coaching others daily’ may be a good action item to add to your ‘To-don’t’ list.  Instead, perhaps it’s wiser to guide others only after you’ve completed the tasks you’ve deemed as high-priority.

  1. Which activities are you spending time on that don’t contribute to the attainment of those goals? Dale Carnegie said, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”  Now that you understand what your main priorities and goals are, it’s time to evaluate where you may be wasting time at work.  According to a study performed by Scoro, 89% of respondents admitted that they waste time at work every day.  They cited email, browsing online, procrastination and a few other activities as a waste of time.  Identify your daily activities that do not align with your role’s priorities and goals, and add those to your, ‘To-don’t’ list.

Once you stop doing the items on your ‘To-don’t’ list, you should have plenty of time to do what you need to do.

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