Write it Down, Prioritize, and Get Started!

3 easy steps to be more Productive, eliminate Overwhelm and reduce Stress.

Ben McGary
4 min readJul 2, 2021


You’re busy. Overwhelmed. Stressed. There is way too much to do. If you only had ______ (more time, more money, more help, etc.), your life would be perfect. But you don’t.

And it’s not…

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Once or twice a week, I speak with someone who is going through this. If I spoke to more people, it would probably happen more often.

Sometimes it’s poor time management and other times there is a lack of focus or even something deeper.

Overwhelming thoughts can completely wreck our personal and professional lives. And we all know by now that “stress kills”, so getting this under control as soon as possible is essential.

Regardless of your root cause, there is a simple 3-step solution that is so obvious, it’s commonly overlooked.

What’s the solution? You guessed it, Write it down, Prioritize, and Get Started!

Write it down

It really doesn’t matter what you write about to start. Write anything. The only requirement is that it be in your own words and reflect the thoughts experiencing overwhelm. This could include:

“I’m so busy I don’t know where to start; My family asks me for help because they need it, but there’s no more time; I can never find anything because there is so much clutter. I have to run my business and take care of everyone at the same time and I don’t have any help.”

The point of this exercise is to get your thoughts out in a place where you can process them.

Next, try to list out all the things that are taking up your time and energy; the stuff that you’ve been putting off and all the little things that are stacking up on your plate. Be specific.


Once you’ve written everything down, go through the list and prioritize what is most important. The order in which you prioritize your list will depend on what’s most important to YOU. Underline or highlight items that are urgent or time-sensitive; place them at the top of your list to ensure they are handled and not causing you added stress.

If you need more help with prioritizing, here are some example questions to help out:

- What would happen if I didn’t complete this task?

- Which one is the most important thing for me to focus on right now?

- From the perspective of my family/boss/client, what’s the most important thing?

- What is the most urgent thing for me to do right now?

- What would make me feel the most accomplished?

You can get as detailed as you want while prioritizing your list, but don’t get stuck here. What feels like organization can sometimes be an excuse for procrastination.

Using the 4-quadrants method for prioritizing has always worked well for me.

Read more about it here — https://appfluence.com/productivity/why-you-should-manage-tasks-using-the-4-quadrants-method/

Get Started

Once you have your list prioritized, it’s time to start taking action. You may not be able to tackle every item on the list today, but take one or two and get started! This also means writing down a plan of what needs to be accomplished and when. That’s called focus and having a clear focus can help eliminate feeling overwhelmed.

As you check items off your list, you’ll probably feel yourself becoming less stressed too. When you feel like you’re doing good, take a second and reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy- just something that will make you happy!

Some people find it useful to create a timeline so they can see what needs to get done each day, week, or month. Others like to set up reminder messages in their email inboxes or on their phones; either way works as long as you are taking action towards your goal!

Be more Productive

People often confuse being busy with being productive. However, they are very different. Being busy consumes us. Productivity frees us.

Productivity boils down to one thing: Doing what needs to be done. Productive people do things; unproductive people talk about doing them.

However, Productivity is not just about crossing things off your list; Productivity is doing what needs to be done in a timely manner while still having time for yourself, friends, family, or anything else that matters most to you — none of which is possible when you’re busy.

Don’t be busy, be productive and you’ll likely notice your stress levels decrease and those overwhelming thoughts completely disappear.



Ben McGary

Writing about things that matter to me when they matter to me and hoping that they’ll matter to you.