How to Prioritise When Your To-Do List Is Overflowing


Our top tips to ensure that you’re not overwhelmed when it feels like everything needs to be done at once

Ever felt the stress of everything being so important, but everything having to be done at the same time (but you can’t do it all at once)?! Take a deep breath. There has probably been a time where we’ve all broke out in a sweat at the sight of a to-do list. And that’s okay. With the right execution, you can be proactive in ensuring that you do not feel overwhelmed, get everything done – and take it all in stride.

The first tactical challenge is looking down at a full plate and deciding where to start. Remember that deep breath we mentioned earlier? Take another one. Whilst an overwhelming to-do list is enough to speed your heart rate up, there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to get a greater hold on what is on that plate of yours. By asking these questions, you can then develop a great understanding of your workload, and have the clarity needed to a strategic plan of attack.

Ready to get to it? Here’s where you should start:


It can be tempting to take a look at our calendar to ensure we have our eyes on the rest of the week, and month. This is important. But can it be left for today? It’s simple... take a step back into the present, and looking at today only? What do you absolutely need to complete over the next eight hours? What items can you tackle that are the most pressing and urgent?

By only focussing on the day ahead, we are not welcoming in the feeling of overwhelm into our day. In other words, you’re not allowing your cognitive process to allow too much choice to stress you out. Segment your master to-do list into a today only list, one that is manageable, realistic, and achievable – making the last to-do for the day to look at your upcoming days ahead, and repeat this process as necessary.


4 hour days, they’re a thing now. Well, not really – but in this case, they’re going to be. Think to yourself: what happens if you truly only had four hours in every day... what should you get done? How can this be helpful? Because of a little thing called  the Planning Fallacy, a heuristic process or method that tricks our brains into thinking tasks will take less time than they really do.

The result? We convince ourselves into thinking we can do more than we really can do. It flips the situation around: instead of trying to push eight hours of work into four hours, this forces you  think what you would do if you only had four hours. This then reveals the things that really do matter the most.


If you have a lifeline, use it. Don’t be afraid to delegate if you have the option. You can easily do this by determining the scope of your project and your involvement that’s needed. When considering delegating a task, always pose the following question to yourself: ‘will the delegated person need any additional support, and if so… how much?’

If some of the bigger tasks cannot be delegated, because the support and time you need to provide outweighs the time gained, is there a chance you can re-look over your to-do list? Look for tasks that can be managed without as much of your input.

No matter what job we’re in, prioritising can not only be a challenge, but another task  within itself. Fortunately, no matter how busy we are, we must remember there are ways to sort through your list, to provide the clarity and success needed to move forward.