3 Ways to find peace if you are overwhelmed by your to-do list

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In 2019 I felt I couldn’t keep up anymore.

I am a Product & People Lead at Automattic. I manage a portfolio of a dozen products and 85 people. My work hours were increasing linearly with the number of people reporting to me, which wasn’t sustainable. So with the help of my coach, I built a system to reduce stress and increase my impact.

These three ideas are the pillars of my system. Give them a try!

Establish routines and stick to them.

Automattic is a distributed company. I work from my home.

The lines between work and personal life can get blurry when working remotely, and with many people depending on me, my neverending flexibility was becoming a hindrance. On the other hand, strict routines helped establish strong habits and increased my confidence in my contributions while keeping my schedule reasonable.

A plan allows you to focus at each moment on the most important.

Budget your time as if it was your money.

Many people start each day with no idea how they’ll spend their time.

I started “Timeblocking,” allocating each period to an activity. It doesn’t mean you can’t have personal time to do what you want. It just means that you won’t feel guilty when you do.

Budgeting guarantees you’ll spend your time on the most important things.

Ditch your to-do list and use your calendar instead.

Your to-do list is slowly killing you, defend yourself and kill it instead.

To-do lists grow faster than you can check things out. They don’t represent commitments. Adding tasks on a to-do list doesn’t mean you’ll do it; it means, at best, that you won’t forget it. Each task occupies the time it needs on a calendar, and it will be immediately apparent when you can or can’t do something.

You’ll know when to say “no” and when to delegate.

My teams have doubled in size since 2019, yet I don’t feel stressed, and I believe my impact at work has never been more significant.


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