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Have you ever felt there is simply too much to do?  That there are too many tasks, too many chores, too many….?  And it doesn’t matter that everything you have to do is, in and of itself, a wonderful task or opportunity. Every task when looked at as a collection can be seen as simply too much.  When you have so many tasks to work on, or so many opportunities calling out for your attention, it can leave you with a sense that none of it can be done and you can’t clear the to-do list or get it down to a manageable level.  The result of this sense of being overwhelmed can be depression and a real sense of paralysis, which slows you down even more and just “feeds the beast” as it were.

Think of it this way, when the sawmills were located next to a lake or a river, the logs were floated down the water to the sawmill for processing.  Occasionally, a few logs for whatever reason would get turned so that they blocked the progress of the rest of the flow.  In this case, the mill would come to a stop and everyone would be idle until the jam was cleared.  Clearing the jam was not always an easy or safe task for the men who would go out onto the flow and try to move the logs around until the jam was cleared.

So, you are not a lumberjack and your logjam is made up of paperwork, calls, appointments, even children and pets and not 75-foot spruce or pine trees. You came here for some proven personal coaching strategies that you can use to mitigate this paralysis or this sense of being overwhelmed and start your own log flow moving again.  Below are a few tips that have worked well for my business management and leadership clients:

Strategies to break through the logjam.

1) When a jam occurs in my life or work, I will simply choose of the easier, shorter duration task and set about completing that one.  What I have discovered is that by simply creating action, other tasks on my list start to line up into a realistic and executable to-do list. 

2) Focus your energy on one “log” at a time, complete that task before starting on another task.  This includes even starting to think about or analyze the next task before you completed the one at hand.  Splitting your mental and physical energy between multiple tasks is a sure way to waste time and spend even a longer amount on one task than is necessary. 

3) If you are challenged with too many distractions or pressures, be intentional about clearing your mind and schedule by not checking email, answering phones or receiving anyone for an hour or two.  By taking control of the continual inputs from friends, family, co-workers, etc. you can start to focus on completing tasks or better yet delegating tasks.  This activity will start to build on itself until you regain the bandwidth to completely clear the jam.

I often tell my clients that if you really have too much to do, work with your manager, a mentor, or tell your family how you are feeling.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the support you receive.

…Of course, saying “NO” occasionally is also very useful tool.

What are some of the tips and tricks you have found that work for you when you are overwhelmed and need to reset your to-do list?  I would like to hear back and share your ideas with my clients and friends.


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