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Too Organized?

Q. I might be too organized. I have so many To Do lists that I need a list to keep track of them. Each morning I spend about an hour writing my daily list. It seems I am planning more than doing. I never even make a dent in my hundreds of To Do's. Any advice?

Reply: Too organized? Impossible!

Your planning habit is good - you could shorten the time you spend, but don't give it up-it is critical! However, it sounds like you are trying to cram too much into your day, which increases your stress and makes you think there is something wrong with you.

Instead, take a good look at the commitments you are making, and why. Most likely, you are reluctant to say no to others. Many people feel that saying no is rude and selfish, and will cause your co-workers, friends and family to disown you.

In truth, it is much worse to commit and then fail to deliver, so learn to say no gracefully. A simple "I'm sorry, I have something else to do at that time" is quite fine. Practice saying that or another phrase that you are comfortable with; we are not born knowing how to set boundaries.

Another key to your happiness is to be realistic about your time; it is limited, so you much choose carefully (and indeed it is your choice, no one else's.)

In the grand scheme, are you in the right job? If you are a stay at home parent, is this the right decision given your current feelings? These are big ideas and deserve your constant attention.

On a smaller scale, your daily to-do list should reflect your day's goals and as a result, should be limited to the most 5 or so most important tasks. Prioritizing is a good decision making technique because it ensures that you focus on the right things, and that you complete the most important projects first.

Ultimately, you need to be flexible so you can adjust as priorities change, and establishing realistic and healthy patterns will serve you well to this end.

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Jill Ellen Shankar
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