Do The Next Thing. How to Prioritize When You’re Overwhelmed.

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Random Robin, my former occasional assistant, marveled at my ability to shift gears quickly and rearrange my priorities and my schedule turning on a dime. Comes from years in construction management, where the landscape (materials availability, access, surprises not on the blueprints) was constantly changing. Just like a battle plan…you make one and then promptly throw it out. No two days were ever the same.



Lately, however, it’s been challenging even for me! I had a conversation with dear friend Jack, who is in the midst of his own ever-changing landscape lately. It’s been all we can do to grab the reins and hold on tight, with moves, recent hurricanes, very welcome houseguests, trips out of town in recent months.


I’m reminded of those days, standing in the wreckage of a demolished space, pager blowing up with messages, memos coming at me like a postal worker. I’d occasionally feel overwhelmed. I made a rule for myself for times when I didn’t know where to start. “Do the next thing”. Whatever that was….I’d do the next thing. And then the haze would begin to clear and I could, once again, prioritize with the best of them.


Today? I did about 5 next things…completed the refrigerator inventory for the insurance claim, received some quotes for same, pinned some marketing pins to Pinterest, updated a press release, worked on a proposal to solicit corporate sponsors and reserved my ticket for one of my first sponsor’s special event. That’s just for starters…I did more “next things”. Pro tip? I’ve always put more things on my “to do” list than I can possibly accomplish. When my stepson asked me why I did that, I explained that if I only had 1 or 2 things on my list, I’d only get 1 or 2 things done. If I had 12 things on my list, I might only get 8 of them done, but that’s still 6 more than the shorter list, right?

As the sole head of our households, we find ourselves managing our homes (and everything that goes on in them) alone, rather than a home meant to be crewed by two. It can be really overwhelming. So what to do? Yup, do the next thing…whatever that is. Do the thing that needs to be done next, you’ll be unstuck, and like magic, the other things begin to sort themselves into priority order.

The haze of being overwhelmed is starting to clear…and on a clear day? I can see forever. And I can prioritize well again.




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