Overcoming ‘to-do’ list overwhelm

Top3 to do list

Does looking at your endless ‘to-do’ list make you feel overwhelmed? Often when we’re overwhelmed we get stuck. The more overwhelmed we are, the more stuck we get and the less we get done. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken as getting nothing done means that the to-do list grows even longer and we end up even more overwhelmed …..aaarrrgghhh!!!!

Below are my top 3 tips for overcoming that feeling of being overwhelmed when you look at your to to list. It’s designed to get you unstuck and moving forward. Give it a go and let me know if it works for you.


Each morning (or perhaps the night before) create a daily to-do list that only has your top 3 tasks on it.  NO MORE THAN 3!  

These are the tasks that will make the biggest impact to your top priorities. They could be anything from setting the alarm so you get to an early gym class, to making a work phone call you’ve been putting off, to chasing up some paperwork you need to file your tax return.

It doesn’t matter if there are things that have been on your endless to-do list longer, for this exercise focus only on those top 3 tasks.


The moment you have a choice in what you are doing with your day (e.g. after the kids are dropped off at school, or the regular 9am team meeting at work is done) start with the first thing on the list.

ONLY when that task is done, move onto the next thing… etc.

TICK THEM OFF when you finish them! The act of completion makes us feel good about what we’ve accomplished and deepens the feeling of satisfaction. It also reminds us that we are in control 🙂


When you’ve finished all three top priority tasks, THEN you can look at some of the other tasks you’ve got on your endless to-do list.

If you don’t get beyond those top 3 that day, it doesn’t matter. The point is you’ve achieved something and moved forward. Not only are you unstuck, but you’ve taken positive steps towards achieving your top priorities.

As your sense of achievement grows, your feelings of being overwhelmed will lessen, and that in turn will allow you to get more done.

And because I like to practice what I preach 🙂 ….

My top 3 tasks for today are:

    1. Go for a run (Improving my run-fitness is part of a bigger fitness goal)
    2. Organise tickets to Lion King for my daughter’s birthday present (I promised her the show and it’s about to end)
    3. Write a blog post for my business site (I’m committed to keeping my site dynamic)

And now that those 3 are done (yahoo!!!), I’ll start to tackle a couple of the other 99 things on my list 🙂

Good luck!

[PS – Keep in mind, that we NEVER get to the end of our to-do lists. Life isn’t like that. There will always be things that crop up, tasks get created by us, or for us throughout the day. But by following the tips above, you will keep things in perspective and in control, and create a well deserved sense of achievement.]


What are your top 3 tasks for today?
Do you have any other tips for keeping sane when you look at an endless-to-do-list?