Sticky Notes Against Overwhelm

At the end of July, I got a great little gig to write a feature piece for a local magazine. At the same time, I committed to writing five guest posts along with my regular schedule of activities. Plus, at the beginning of August, I started the Kaizen-Muse creativity coaching certification program with two class sessions per week plus homework. Oh, so many wonderful new things!

Excited to begin, I placed each deadline in my calendar and looked through the weeks to come. Each time I added another project to my list of “Things To Do,” I lost track of the last one.

I slid quickly into overwhelm. Stuck-still overwhelmed. No-forward-movement-possible-Help-Me! overwhelmed.

Usually, making a list will help but list after list after list toppled. Marking things off the list, one of my most favorite pastimes, became a minefield. Each time a satisfactory line slid through an item, I’d add two more.

I tried breaking up the lists, basing them on the date, project, or common activities.

Total confusion reigned.

Maybe adding the lists to my online calendar would help. But when more than three items got added, the calendar displayed words like “2 more” or “6 more.” Ugh. No way. I needed to see all my things to do at a glance.

I vibrated in place, unsure of how to proceed and knowing that I needed to get these things done.

Then, the small sticky notes that line my desk called to me.

Some might say I have a sticky note problem. The sticky notes in my possession range from the small 1.5”x2” to a large tabletop easel pad. One of these large sticky pieces of paper hangs on my office closet door with my list of the things that need to be done for the Housewyfe (who you might want to check out if you like giggling. Sign up here!).

Those smallest sticky notes gave me a way to organize my work with flexibility and a concrete sense of accomplishment. They allow me to add items to my list without feeling the pressure as I can add them for weeks out. I can see what I can accomplish, week after week.

After using it for three months and having it still stick around (see what I did there? HA!), I knew I had to tell you about it.

This is what I do. Five sticky notes line the lefthand side of my “board” which is what I call that large sticky note on my closet door. They are labeled Monday through Friday. (Though when I started this, the sticky notes included dates since they were lined up for four weeks out because of all of the things I’d allowed myself to commit to. This system helped me to dial that back as well.).

I write each task on a sticky note and put it on the same line as the appropriate day. When that task is done, I move it from the line of the day to the trash can or to another part of the big board because I can reuse my weekly tasks until they lose their sticky.

By doing this, I can see the progress I’m making. When the sticky notes leave the main grid, my heart becomes lighter. My overwhelm subsides.

Not only did making this change in my system help me overcome my overwhelm, but the new system also allowed me to see how many activities I can realistically load into my schedule.

Knowing how many sticky notes I can get through helps me to see my commitments in black and white.

Or rather, black and aqua and lavender.

I think I need some more sticky notes.