How to avoid being overwhelmed (GTD Tuesday)

When was the last time you felt overwhelmed? For me it was the Sunday night after Thanksgiving.

Who learns more, the blogger or the reader? I think one of my underlying reasons for writing this blog is my desire to get enough rest to fulfill my own destiny. I firmly believe that if you don’t get enough rest, you won’t fulfill your destiny.

Since that Sunday night I have been evaluating things and have made some short term changes. I resigned (effective in December) a volunteer board position. I decided to postpone teaching a church class and I decided to delay pursuing another web-related opportunity.

One of the wonderful things about Getting Things Done is that it helps you see how much you are really doing and have to do. In addition, it helps you keep your life in balance. Recently I read a great post over at Zen Habits that suggested that you limit yourself to no more than three projects. This is wisdom.

Lately I have been following this only three projects idea. I’ve set up three daily recurring tasks in Outlook that lists my Next Actions for each project. This has really been helping me stay on track.

In addition to the three projects idea, I recommend:

Re-evaluate. Ask yourself the deep questions? What was I born for? How do these things I’m doing fit with my purpose and values? What are my current limits in terms of time, energy and, money? One quick reality check for seeing how much “available time” for a project is to take 168 hours in a week and subtract all the hours that are already spoken for. In terms of energy, take a realistic look at how often you feel stressed or have trouble sleeping. Money is the easy one to evaluate: do you have the money you need to do what you are planning?

Re-view. Look for things that you don’t have the desire for that you once had and see if you can eliminate them. Look for different ways to do the things you want. When I do get a chance to teach the church class, I may facilitate the class using someone else’s material rather than writing the class myself. Look for ways to increase you capacity. Maybe you can outsource some of your life (see The 4 Hour Workweek). Maybe you can “batch” some things. I was working out 6 days per week. Now I work out the same amount of time but do it in 3 days per week. This frees up time for me to write when I’m at my best (in the mornings).

Re-adjust. Realize that this kind of evaluation is something that you need to do often (maybe once per quarter). A mini version can take place in your weekly review but I think most people need some dedicated time to do this. As things around you change make the changes you need to keep you in the center of your destiny.

Good is the enemy of best. There are enough good things you could do to fill twelve life times but you only have one. Take some time today and ask if you are really doing “the best”.

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