Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Overwhelmed by Lack of Time?

This is a guest post by Deanne Welsh.

Overwhelmed by Lack of Time?It was happening again. The rushed feeling of anxiety creeping over me. The house was a mess. The sheer length of my to-do list was filling me with dread. Where to start?

Have you been there?

For too long, I allowed this to be my normal. I woke up stressed and fell into bed exhausted. Besides myself, the people who suffered the most from this were my husband and son.

The tension of household chores and the pull of my writing and dreams had me caught in the middle. That’s when I heard of two strategies that changed everything.

The 5 Minute Pick Up

First thing after breakfast, I grab a timer and set it for five minutes: clothes are hung, counters are wiped, the breakfast crumbs are swept away… When the timer rings, I move to the next room. This ensures that I tackle what is most important to me first and then I make a conscious decision not to worry about the rest (yes, this is hard if you are a neat freak).

The result is that I can settle down to work knowing that most of the house is in order and that the places that are not can be tackled later. This time boundary benefits my mind and my spirit.

My house is cleaner than when I let my long to do list dictate my actions. The five minutes are easily accomplished and at times I even break them up throughout the day, to encourage myself to get up and moving. I can get a little obsessive about what I’m working on and forget how important mental breaks are.

The 5 Minute Strategy Meeting

As writers and entrepreneurs, we have hundreds if not thousands of tasks that can be completed on a daily basis. The reality is that we cannot complete them all.

For too long, I would write out a list of 20 to 100 tasks and then chip away at them. The discouragement and overwhelm never ended because as a few tasks were completed, more were added to the list. My list kept growing! The possibility of our potential does not have a ceiling and as a result, neither does our to-do list.

Nip the long to do list in the bud. Sure – you can keep a long list of future tasks and projects, but do not stare at it daily, unless you want to burn out and go a little crazy. When we face a long list, we are wasting our creative and decisive energy to sort through the list and pick a task.

The better way is to plan a five-minute strategy meeting at the end and beginning of each day.

At the end of each day, decide which two to four tasks are most important to the movement and attainment towards your dreams and goals.  Aim for bite-sized chunks that can be accomplished in the time you will have available the next day. Do not aim for super-human tasks: these should be broken down into smaller tasks.

At the beginning of each day, spend five minutes with your list of tasks (two to four) and use the five minutes to brainstorm how you will accomplish them.  If writing a blog post is on your list, brainstorm the subject and content. If calling a client lead is on your list, brainstorm your conversation. After your five minutes are up, go grab a cup of coffee and you are ready to dive in. In allowing yourself to brainstorm and free write how you will tackle your to-do list, you have put yourself in a great position to succeed.

There you have it. Two five minutes strategies to help you regain control of your home and your work. Let us know how they go or comment below with other sanity-time saving strategies you have.

Deanne Welsh is passionate about helping writers set their ideas and stories free. She grew up on ships sailing around the world and believes that each of us has a story the world needs to hear. You can find her at or on Facebook here. She is starting a book club on Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way and would love to have you join her.