Have you ever felt overwhelmed? You know that feeling that there are too many things to do and not enough time to do them in? This is especially true if you are an “ideas” person whose mind constantly generates new thoughts and insights that eventual lead to a string of projects. How are we supposed to handle this overwhelm and stay sane?
The first step is to understand that there is always more to do than time allows. If you follow GTD practice, the generation of action lists and a robust project list will quickly demonstrate this fact. Accepting that some things will never be done is a part of good mental health. The trick becomes deciding what is essential to complete in terms of your larger mission and purpose. Spending a lot of time completing small tasks with little payoff becomes exhausting. It is far better to complete fewer tasks well that lead to bigger payoffs.
I was once asked this question in an Efficient Librarian workshop: “How often do you empty your action folder?”
I replied that as a functional folder the point wasn’t to empty it regularly like the inbox, but instead to corral actionable items together into one place. In fact, in the last four years my work email action folder has only been completely empty once. Since I am very active at work, it may never be empty again until I retire!
So, relax and remember that there will always be more to do than can be done. The question you have to consider is what is the most important thing to do in the time you have. That answer will lead you productively and efficiently forward.