How to prioritise when you're feeling overwhelmed

HELP! Too much on your to do list and not enough time on the clock? Feeling sick with worry that you don’t know what to do first?

It’s a horrible feeling being overwhelmed by your task list – an easy way to erase the joy from your day! I know, I’ve been there SO many times. But when you’re feeling like that it’s really not the time for lengthy lists or complicated planning. What you need is a way to get back on top quickly by starting to prioritise what to do and when to do it.

So here’s my quick 3-step system for prioritising when you’re overwhelmed (and don’t forget to grab your cheatsheet at the end of this post):

Step one – Clear your head

When everything is floating around in your head it can be almost impossible to make sense of it all. Clear your head by making a list of everything you need to do on sticky notes – one for each task. I like to use a different colour sticky note for different headings  i.e. business, home, family or you can just write the heading on the note.

Step two – Urgent or Important?

Not every task you’ve written down needs to be done immediately, even if it feels that way! We’re going to start prioritising by separating the notes you’ve written into 3 piles – urgent, important and everything else and sticking them on a chart like the one at the bottom of this post.

How do you know what’s urgent and what’s important?

IMPORTANT – these tasks come FIRST. They are the tasks the contribute to your goals, they are profitable in some way to you or to others – i.e. finishing a report for a client, creating a business plan, writing your blog media pack for advertisers, planning out your ecourse (this list will obviously depend on your goals)

URGENT – these tasks come SECOND. These are the tasks that are critical and will prevent a crisis i.e. paying a credit card bill that is almost overdue

EVERYTHING ELSE – these tasks come LAST. Yup pretty much everything else is negotiable. It doesn’t mean it won’t get done, but not today. Keep them in this column and review regularly as they may move into the important or urgent columns over time.

How to prioritise when you're feeling overwhelmed

Step 3 – Schedule

Grab your planner, diary or phone – however you manage your time – and schedule the tasks into your week based on their importance or urgency, making sure that you include something from each of your headings i.e. work, home. Each day use the timeboxing technique to set your agenda with your top 3 priorities from the important and urgent boxes.

It works!

Don’t just take my word for it, this simple system is working for others too…

Grab your cheatsheet

Heck, I love a cheatsheet! Grab your ‘How to prioritise when you’re overwhelmed’ PDF cheatsheet right here (click to download):

Cheatsheet- how to prioritise when you're overwhelmed

I’d love to know if you find this 3-step system helpful in getting you back on track when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Drop me a note in the comments, ok? (Want to work 121 with me to create a clear set of exciting but manageable goals to live the life of your dreams? Find out how or join my FREE Facebook and email community to regain your gorgeous *sparkle* alongside some amazing women who are stepping up to live their life with purpose, on purpose.)


Want to go further? Take my FREE 5-day challenge “How to Overcome Overwhelm” and learn the tools and techniques to get back on track fast.

Slider- how to overcome feeling overwhelmed 5 day challenge