How to Feel Less Overwhelmed from all your Good Ideas

Many of us are overwhelmed these days with way too much to do and nowhere near enough hours in the day to keep up with the to do list.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”

– Dwight Eisenhower

A few thoughts/resources in that vein:

  • Write Down your Ideas/To do’s/Responsibilities
    • David Allen’s Getting Things Done walks through some great practices and recommendations in this vein, on how to get things out of your head, into a system (e.g. organized notebook, an app, etc.) — the tool is less important than how you identify, capture, groom/refine, and monitor these things
  • Ruthlessly review/groom/remove/prioritize your to do’s
    • DO NOT try to do everything, you’ll exhaust yourself and feel like you’re losing a never-ending battle
    • Categorize things into buckets, based on priority/importance to you (see Eisenhower Matrix)
    • Be conservative/reasonable (e.g. double your estimate) in estimating how long things will take you to do (see Planning Fallacy)
    • Think about the order of how you attack your actions/projects — it’s tempting to attack all the little/easy tasks, but that often results in the big, hard, important things never getting advanced (see Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand story)
    • Align your to do’s to keep goals/themes in your life, so you don’t get overwhelmed by lots of good ideas, instead of the ones that are central to how you want to focus your limited time on earth
  • Remember that Time is Fleeting
    • Read The Tail End to remind yourself how precious and limited time is, to encourage yourself to really focus on what’s important (great article I heard from Tim Ferris’ podcast)


  1. Excellent advice. I like the ruthlessly prune your to-do list idea. I throw away my list every three months. It is amazing how often items that are pruned never come back. – urgent but not really important.

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