• If you’re a highly sensitive person, sometimes you may find yourself overwhelmed with a lengthy to-do list. How do you finish what you need to get done? Here are a few ideas that may work for you whether you are high or low in sensory-processing sensitivity.

  • 1. You may use different strategies for different tasks.

    You may also discard one strategy when it becomes stale and use another. Color or images can help make your to-do list attractive enough to ever want to see it again. If that list is going on the bulletin board or frig, it needs a font that is legible, even from a distance, like Cooper Black.

  • 2. A popular approach for staying on task is the tomato-timer from Pomodoro.

  • You set the timer and work for 25 minutes. When the tone sounds, you take a five-minute break. Then back for another 25 minutes, followed by a longer break. 

    The break allows time to stretch, tear your eyes away from the screen, notice the world around you, stay hydrated, answer a colleague’s question or, if you office from home, put the towels in the dryer.

    This is great for a project that needs full concentration, and it’s a good approach for planning or writing. You are more willing to ignore distractions when you know a break is coming.

  • Just one thing: you have to remember to keep your browser and tab open; otherwise, you can be revising a document elsewhere and find that there’s no timer; closing the browser turned it off.

  • 3. Consolidate your tasks.

    When you’re collecting material for a future project, the boards at Trello.com are a great place to store your web references, tasks, preliminary plans and ideas. There’s a calendar feature and an opportunity to share your boards with coworkers. One caution: some of us—we know who we are–have entirely too much fun adding images, so you may have to set a limit on time you spend prettying up the boards.

  • 4. Don't hide from the tasks you hate.

    If it’s time to finish the filing, clean up the workshop or kitchen, or do anything you hate to do, you might tell yourself you’ll work for five (or ten) minutes. Then you usually go ahead and finish. You are happy with the result; it’s the breaking of inertia that’s the problem.

  • 5. Jot notes for tomorrow.

    You are more likely to get errands or chores done if you write out a list the night before.

  • 6. Finally, when your mind goes blank, it's time to regroup.

    Back at your desk, you may finish a task and then find your mind goes blank. There seems to be no next step. That may mean it’s time to catch up on the filing, review pending projects, and to consolidate your handwritten notes. It’s time to look around, inventory what needs to be done or has been overlooked.

    You can make a new master task list by category with the highest priorities at the top of each. Then it’s easier to identify the most important tasks in each category, and balance them out with other projects and activities. Sometimes the best “next step” is to review and prep for the upcoming week.

    Putting everything in its proper place, even if that place is on a list, frees the mind. Otherwise it may be falling all over itself to remind you of what must be done. That’s annoying and distracting.

    There are many systems, tools, apps, and lists for your calendar, computer, phone, or frig. Probably one’s just right for you.  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Authenticity Coaching offers teleconference courses and HSP coaching for the highly sensitive person. This is the first of a series of  posts on goal-setting for the HSP.