Ever feel like you could get more done if only all those tasks you aren’t ready to tackle would just shut up already? You know, that pile of mail sitting on your desk that’s screaming, “Open me, open me” or that jumble of laundry getting even more appallingly wrinkled in the corner of your bedroom?
Every time you look at them you feel stressed and distracted. What’s even worse is those nagging to-do’s actually cost you time. Think about it – every time you glance at them, you need to mentally process the frustrated sigh and the silent promise that you’ll get to it eventually. Maybe you even go one step further and mentally scan your calendar for an open slot.
Too many nagging to-do’s and you start feeling drained and overwhelmed, like if only you could get away from it all, you could get something done. Everywhere you look, something is blinking, buzzing or silently vying for your attention. “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” This is not the best headspace for creative thinking.
How to Quiet Down Your Nagging To-Do’s
Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Don’t leave any evidence of your to-do’s hanging around your creative space. Tuck it away in your desk, a filing cabinet or even a storage bin until you are ready to tackle it.
Dump Your Mental List – Get in the habit of doing regular brain dumps for both your creative ideas and your nagging tasks. The reason is simple: if your brain has to hold onto it, it will constantly bring it back up instead of releasing it until you are ready to deal with it.
Schedule It in Your Calendar – Designate time in your calendar to either tackle your individual to-do’s or review your brain dumps so you don’t lose sight of the stuff you have ‘put away’. This will allow you to release those tasks and clear your mind of them.
Delegate or Ditch It – Be honest with yourself about the tasks that are piling up because you actually don’t want to do them and either delegate them to someone else or decide not to do them. (Yes, it’s okay to decide that you don’t like folding laundry and hire someone to do it for you).
Keep It Clear and Clean – Don’t let task clutter build up around your creative space. This means setting aside time at the end of every work block to clean up and at the end of the day to clear the space. It is much easier to maintain a clear desk than it is to clean it up once it gets out of control.