When things don’t go as you planned . . . when a new opportunity upsets your apple cart . . . when your to-do list trebles overnight . . . these are all things that can ignite a feeling of being overwhelmed.
When things get overwhelming, you get confused and have a hard time deciding on what to do next.
Perfectionism kicks in. You get so caught up in figuring out what’s the best thing to do that you end up not taking any action at all.
This simple but effective technique will stop your mind from spinning like a compass that can’t find true north, and help you take action.
First: If you’re carrying a list in your mind, write it down.
The order in which you write it down doesn’t matter. Don’t stress over doing any prioritizing. Just get everything on your list out of your head and down on paper.
That will automatically reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and give you a sense of control.
Second: Before everything on you list starts escalating your anxiety, quickly look it over and pick two items to work on. It doesn’t matter which two.
This is a not about making the best choice or the right choice. It’s about reducing a list of many to a list of two. It’s about enabling you to take action.
Third: Now look at the two things you’ve chosen. Which one causes your stress or anxiety to rise? Ignore that one and immediately start working on the other one.
Why This Works
Taking action does three things:
- It cuts through the noise in your mind,
- Directs you to focus on one task, and
- Gives you the satisfaction of moving forward.
It’s been shown that the more items you have from which to choose the less likely you are to make a choice. Sheena Iyengar is famous for her study that shows this, and any parent with a toddler knows it too.
Reduce the quantity of the items to a manageable number, such as two, and decision making and action taking becomes easier.
So why choose the one that causes you less stress and anxiety? Simply to make it easier for you to move forward.