Primer: When You Have Too Much to Do

You have a to-do list that scrolls on for days. You are managing multiple projects, getting lots of email and messages on different messaging systems, managing finances and personal health habits and so much more.

It all keeps piling up, and it can feel overwhelming.

How do you keep up with it all? How do you find focus and peace and get stuff accomplished when you have too much on your plate?

In this primer, I’ll look at some key strategies and tactics for taking on an overloaded life with an open heart, lots of energy, and a smile on your face.

The First Step: Triage

Whether you’re just starting your day, or you’re in the middle of the chaos and just need to find some sanity … the first step is to get into triage mode.

Triage, as you probably know, is sorting through the chaos to prioritize: what needs to be done now, what needs to be done today, what needs to be done this week, and what can wait? You’re looking at urgency, but also what’s meaningful and important.

Here’s what you might do:

  1. Pick out the things that need to be done today. Start a Short List for things you’re going to do today. That might be important tasks for big projects, urgent tasks that could result in damage if you don’t act, smaller admin tasks that you really should take care of today, and responding to important messages. I would recommend being ruthless and cutting out as much as you can, having just 5 things on your plate if that’s at all possible. Not everything needsto be done today, and not every email needs to be responded to.
  2. Push some things to tomorrow and the rest of the week. If you have deadlines that can be pushed back (or renegotiated), do that. Spread the work out over the week, even into next week. What needs to be done tomorrow? What can wait a day or two longer?
  3. Eliminate what you can. That might mean just not replying to some messages that aren’t that important and don’t really require a reply. It might mean telling some people that you can’t take on this project after all, or that you need to get out of the commitment that you said you’d do. Yes, this is uncomfortable. For now, just put them on a list called, “To Not Do,” and plan to figure out how to get out of them later.

OK, you have some breathing room and a manageable list now! Let’s shrink that down even further and just pick one thing.

Next: Focus on One Thing

With a lot on your plate, it’s hard to pick one thing to focus on. But that’s exactly what I’m going to ask you to do.

Pick one thing, and give it your focus. Yes, there are a lot of other things you can focus on. Yes, they’re stressing you out and making it hard to focus. But think about it this way: if you allow it all to be in your head all the time, that will always be your mode of being. You’ll always be thinking about everything, stressing out about it all, with a frazzled mind … unless you start shifting.

The shift:

  1. Pick something to focus on. Look at the triaged list from the first section … if you have 5-6 things on this Short List, you can assess whether there’s any super urgent, time-sensitive things you need to take care of. If there are, pick one of them. If not, pick the most important one — probably the one you have been putting off doing.
  2. Clear everything else away. Just for a little bit. Close all browser tabs, turn off notifications, close open applications, put your phone away.
  3. Put that one task before you, and allow yourself to be with it completely. Pour yourself into it. Think of it as a practice, of letting go (of everything else), of focus, of radical simplicity.

When you’re done (or after 15-20 minutes have gone by at least), you can switch to something else. But don’t allow yourself to switch until then.

By closing off all exits, by choosing one thing, by giving yourself completely to that thing … you’re now in a different mode that isn’t so stressful or spread thin. You’ve started a shift that will lead to focus and sanity.

Third: Schedule Time to Simplify

Remember the To Not Do list above? Schedule some time this week to start reducing your projects, saying no to people, getting out of commitments, crossing stuff off your task list … so that you can have some sanity back.

There are lots of little things that you’ve said “yes” to that you probably shouldn’t have. That’s why you’re overloaded. Protect your more important work, and your time off, and your peace of mind, by saying “no” to things that aren’t as important.

Schedule the time to simplify — you don’t have to do it today, but sometime soon — and you can then not have to worry about the things on your To Not Do list until then.

Fourth: Practice Mindful Focus

Go through the rest of the day with an attitude of “mindful focus.” That means that you are doing one thing at a time, being as present as you can, switching as little as you can.

Think of it as a settling of the mind. A new mode of being. A mindfulness practice (which means you won’t be perfect at it).

As you practice mindful focus, you’ll learn to practice doing things with an open heart, with curiosity and gratitude, and even joy. Try these one at a time as you get to do each task on your Short List.

You’ll find that you’re not so overloaded, but that each task is just perfect for that moment. And that’s a completely new relationship with the work that you do, and a new relationship with life.

I Am Worth Loving Wallpaper

Markup: Image Alignment

Welcome to image alignment! The best way to demonstrate the ebb and flow of the various image positioning options is to nestle them snuggly among an ocean of words. Grab a paddle and let’s get started.

On the topic of alignment, it should be noted that users can choose from the options of None, Left, Right, and Center. In addition, they also get the options of Thumbnail, Medium, Large & Fullsize.

Image Alignment 580x300

The image above happens to be centered.

Image Alignment 150x150The rest of this paragraph is filler for the sake of seeing the text wrap around the 150×150 image, which is left aligned.

As you can see the should be some space above, below, and to the right of the image. The text should not be creeping on the image. Creeping is just not right. Images need breathing room too. Let them speak like you words. Let them do their jobs without any hassle from the text. In about one more sentence here, we’ll see that the text moves from the right of the image down below the image in seamless transition. Again, letting the do it’s thang. Mission accomplished!

And now for a massively large image. It also has no alignment.

Image Alignment 1200x400

The image above, though 1200px wide, should not overflow the content area. It should remain contained with no visible disruption to the flow of content.

Image Alignment 300x200

And now we’re going to shift things to the right align. Again, there should be plenty of room above, below, and to the left of the image. Just look at him there… Hey guy! Way to rock that right side. I don’t care what the left aligned image says, you look great. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

In just a bit here, you should see the text start to wrap below the right aligned image and settle in nicely. There should still be plenty of room and everything should be sitting pretty. Yeah… Just like that. It never felt so good to be right.

And just when you thought we were done, we’re going to do them all over again with captions!

Image Alignment 580x300
Look at 580×300 getting some caption love.

The image above happens to be centered. The caption also has a link in it, just to see if it does anything funky.

Image Alignment 150x150
Itty-bitty caption.

The rest of this paragraph is filler for the sake of seeing the text wrap around the 150×150 image, which is left aligned.

As you can see the should be some space above, below, and to the right of the image. The text should not be creeping on the image. Creeping is just not right. Images need breathing room too. Let them speak like you words. Let them do their jobs without any hassle from the text. In about one more sentence here, we’ll see that the text moves from the right of the image down below the image in seamless transition. Again, letting the do it’s thang. Mission accomplished!

And now for a massively large image. It also has no alignment.

Image Alignment 1200x400
Massive image comment for your eyeballs.

The image above, though 1200px wide, should not overflow the content area. It should remain contained with no visible disruption to the flow of content.

Image Alignment 300x200
Feels good to be right all the time.

And now we’re going to shift things to the right align. Again, there should be plenty of room above, below, and to the left of the image. Just look at him there… Hey guy! Way to rock that right side. I don’t care what the left aligned image says, you look great. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

In just a bit here, you should see the text start to wrap below the right aligned image and settle in nicely. There should still be plenty of room and everything should be sitting pretty. Yeah… Just like that. It never felt so good to be right.

And that’s a wrap, yo! You survived the tumultuous waters of alignment. Image alignment achievement unlocked! One last thing: The last item in this post’s content is a thumbnail floated right. Make sure any elements after the content are clearing properly.

Markup: Text Alignment

Default

This is a paragraph. It should not have any alignment of any kind. It should just flow like you would normally expect. Nothing fancy. Just straight up text, free flowing, with love. Completely neutral and not picking a side or sitting on the fence. It just is. It just freaking is. It likes where it is. It does not feel compelled to pick a side. Leave him be. It will just be better that way. Trust me.

Left Align

This is a paragraph. It is left aligned. Because of this, it is a bit more liberal in it’s views. It’s favorite color is green. Left align tends to be more eco-friendly, but it provides no concrete evidence that it really is. Even though it likes share the wealth evenly, it leaves the equal distribution up to justified alignment.

Center Align

This is a paragraph. It is center aligned. Center is, but nature, a fence sitter. A flip flopper. It has a difficult time making up its mind. It wants to pick a side. Really, it does. It has the best intentions, but it tends to complicate matters more than help. The best you can do is try to win it over and hope for the best. I hear center align does take bribes.

Right Align

This is a paragraph. It is right aligned. It is a bit more conservative in it’s views. It’s prefers to not be told what to do or how to do it. Right align totally owns a slew of guns and loves to head to the range for some practice. Which is cool and all. I mean, it’s a pretty good shot from at least four or five football fields away. Dead on. So boss.

Justify Align

This is a paragraph. It is justify aligned. It gets really mad when people associate it with Justin Timberlake. Typically, justified is pretty straight laced. It likes everything to be in it’s place and not all cattywampus like the rest of the aligns. I am not saying that makes it better than the rest of the aligns, but it does tend to put off more of an elitist attitude.

Markup: Title With Special Characters

Putting special characters in the title should have no adverse effect on the layout or functionality.

Special characters in the post title have been known to cause issues with JavaScript when it is minified, especially in the admin when editing the post itself (ie. issues with metaboxes, media upload, etc.).

Latin Character Tests

This is a test to see if the fonts used in this theme support basic Latin characters.

!#$%&()*
+,./01234
56789:;>=<
?@ABCDEFGH
IJKLMNOPQR
STUVWXYZ[\
]^_`abcdef
ghijklmnop
qrstuvwxyz
{|}~

Markup: Title With Markup

Verify that:

  • The post title renders the word “with” in italics and the word “markup” in bold.
  • The post title markup should be removed from the browser window / tab.