Five Ways to Feel Less Overwhelmed

Synching a schedule

Develop your own system to help organize tasks.

A to-do list can feel endless. Even when a task is finally completed, it seems as though ten more pop up in its place. At work, you are expected to keep up with your responsibilities and meet strict deadlines. At home, you may have to tend to children and family. In your personal life, you try to maintain healthy relationships as well as reserve time for yourself to hit the gym or keep up a hobby. All of these demands combined can become stressful. Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, suggests five ways to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

1. Map your commitments.

You need a system that helps you organize tasks. One way is to think about how you will take in new assignments. You will need to decide the amount of time and resources needed to complete these new assignments and how they fit in with what you have already allocated. You will also need to identify when you need to ask for support from others.

2. Prioritize your tasks by urgency.

Every assignment is not urgent. Differentiate between what is important and what is urgent. Urgent matters need immediate attention. Create a time buffer in your schedule to account for disruptions that pushe other priorities further down the line. If tasks don’t fit into an “urgent” or “important” category, ask yourself why you’re doing them.

3. Schedule your time.

If you're the type of person who operates on an internal clock, then you always know how much time you need to complete your work. If not, you can still be efficient by more diligently scheduling your time. Achieving milestones you set along the way can keep you motivated.

4. Identify time suckers.

Daily distractions like emails, meetings, and social media always exist. Use a timer to get yourself back on schedule. In order to become more disciplined, become more conscious of how you use your time. Developing a keener sense of balance in how you distribute your time between work, creativity, and social encounters is important.

5. Establish when and where to say no.

There are times you may want to help someone out, but don’t really have the time. Learn to say no. This can be a final no or a delay until you do have the time. Above all else, take care of yourself or you won't be able to do what’s good for you or anyone else.

Read the full story at Inc. and learn more about the M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.