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Tackling all those to-dos

Work, home and play can keep us busy enough. But when we add supporting ageing parents into the mix, our to-do lists can start to look overwhelming. Personal and professional development coach Rhiannon Ford takes us through the 3Ds technique to lighten the load.

Most of us feel a little overwhelmed at times with what seems like an enormous number of jobs we need to get done in a short space of time. We all know that time management is key. However, this is sometimes easier said than done, when stress levels are running high and everything feels urgent.

Sometimes it’s the number of items on our list that makes us feel overwhelmed and sometimes it’s the items themselves that make us feel uncomfortable. It’s important to identify what it is that’s draining us.

Here is a simple technique for dealing with overload, which you can apply at work, at home, and even with family and friends where your parents’ needs are concerned.

  1. Make a list of all the concerns that are draining you. The items could include actions you need to take or decisions you need to make.
  2. Take each item in turn and choose one of the following 3Ds to deal with it

3Ds – do it, ditch it or delegate it

Do it! Just get on with it. Some jobs you just have to do yourself because they’re your responsibility or you’ve agreed to them. Once the task is completed, it will no longer be sapping your strength and you will feel a sense of relief and achievement.

It doesn’t take long to pick up the ‘phone and make a few appointments, for example. But constantly thinking about the need to contact the doctor, the chiropodist or relatives on your parent’s behalf without getting round to doing it can be far more energy-draining.

Ditch it! Sometimes there are things we feel we should be doing but we procrastinate as we just don’t want to do them. Ask yourself, “Do I need to do this?” If the answer is no, ditch it. Strike it off your list. It is done. If the answer is yes, ask yourself “Do I really need to do this today?” Set a realistic goal as to when you really need to action this item. It may be that you can put it in the diary for next week, therefore decreasing today’s to do list.

Do you put yourself under pressure, for example, to do jobs for your parents that they haven’t asked you to do, and in truth no one else expects them of you either? Do you feel you “ought” to keep the house and/or garden up to the standards that they always achieved? Would it matter if the flowers are bought in rather than home-grown, that there’s no home-made jam, or that the light bulbs don’t get dusted regularly?

Delegate it! This is a favourite. Sometimes we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves as to what we can physically achieve in a 24-hr day and a 7-day week. If you have decided the item on the list needs action, the next question to ask yourself is “Am I the best person to do this?” This is not about asking whether you are capable of doing it, but rather whether you have enough time. Does it really have to be you that does this, or would someone else do it just as well if not better?

Delegating to family is naturally going to require more diplomacy than delegating to staff, but it can be done. If, for example, you’re the on-call offspring for parental crises, can you pass on the task of updating family and friends to a sibling? Delegating to outsiders can work too. If you’re spending too much of your time shopping for your parents, why not hand over the task to an online supermarket?

The key to using the 3Ds technique is not to spend too long deciding which D to allocate to a particular item on your list. Listen to your gut instinct when making your decision. It knows best!

To find out more about Rhiannon’s work with individuals to help make positive improvements in their lives and to set and achieve their personal and professional goals email her.

What do you think you could ditch or delegate in a busy schedule? Let us know with a comment below.

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