As we hear news that our world will begin to reopen over the next few weeks, many of us are probably starting to think of all the things we need to do that have been put on hold during quarantine. Just as we were overwhelmed with the need to quickly adjust our routines to incorporate social distancing and working from home, now we might be overwhelmed thinking about everything we need to get caught up on once things return to "normal." But instead of figuring out how we're going to quickly accomplish all our tasks or make all our appointments, we should be planning how to prioritize the things we want/need to tackle. Here are four tips to help you prioritize and keep your stress levels low:

  1. List your tasks on a master to-do list and rank them. Getting the jumbled mess of everything you need to do out of your head, organized, and written on paper is a simple action you can take to help you feel less overwhelmed. After all your to-dos are on paper, go through and rank order them by importance. What needs to be done as soon as possible and why? What are the consequences if you don't get that item checked off the list? These questions will help guide you in deciding what should be done first and what can wait.
  2. Use a calendar. Once you have your to-do list ranked and organized, put all your tasks in your calendar with a start and end date, and reminders in between. Whether it's the calendar on your phone, an email calendar, or a paper/desk calendar, giving the items on your list a specific date for completion can keep you on track and remind you of your priorities.
  3. Ask for help! Is there anyone at work or at home who can handle some of the items on your to-do list? It's important to remember that the burden of accomplishing all the tasks on your to-do list doesn't need to rest solely on you! If you're still feeling overwhelmed even once you have your calendar organized, don't be afraid to ask for help! Just make sure you communicate clearly and ask your helper well in advance of the deadline.
  4. Be flexible and adaptable! As we all know, things can change suddenly. While it helps to have your priorities listed out and scheduled, you need to remind yourself that there are things you cannot control. Expect something to come up that will throw a wrench in your prioritization plans. When it does, remember to stay focused only on the things you can control and adjust your priorities the best you can.

As we all start to think about what needs to be done once life returns to "normal," we need to remember to give ourselves some grace. It's impossible to get everything on our to-do lists done at the same time, and there is no reason to place unnecessary stress on ourselves to try to do so! Take a step back and follow the tips above to help you prioritize your schedule and prevent yourself from playing a tiring, endless game of catch-up.