How to get things done without breaking down

Have you ever gone through the experience where you have so much to do; the stress takes over and you end up doing nothing at all?


For an idealist like myself especially, I am always seeking ways to improve my life, my health, my relationships, productivity, work and so on. And yet there is only so much time and so much effort one can put into anything. The end result is often that I end up dejected and choose to focus on temporary pleasures (read: procrastination) instead of doing what I know really needs to be done. At the end of the day, I end up even more depressed as I realized I have failed all the expectations I set for myself in the first place.

As one of my favorite books in the bible says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4

Waiting for perfect conditions will mean inactivity. In the end, I realized I needed to change and I’m still slowly going through the change process. Here’s what I’m doing:

1)      It’s okay to lower expectations

In a society that’s always telling us to set high expectations, this seems to be a strange advice. But the fact is, we don’t need everything to be happy, we only need to be content. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be ambitious, go for it, go for the big dreams, but do it one step at a time.

The danger of setting too high an expectation at the start is one ends up feeling overwhelmed.

2)      Make a choice

In keeping with the last point, the way to lower one’s expectations is to make a choice. For example, if I wanted to improve my relationship with my cousin and improve my cooking skills by making lunch but only had time for one. I have to make a choice since I can’t prioritize both at once. Make a choice, and then make peace with yourself over the decision. Be content. Tell yourself, I’m not omniscient and get over it.

plan3)      Goal-setting

Set clear but very achievable goals and these goals should align with your long term goals. So if your 5 year plan is to have a home and your bank account is getting nowhere near, it’s time to start a clear financial goal that’s achievable. It should be concrete with a target deadline such as, “Have $10,000 in my savings account by X Month X Year”

4)      Write an action plan and set a schedule

For each and every of your goals, write an action plan. It could start with something as simple as, “speak to a financial planner” or “ask dad about investment”. “Limit shopping to $X a month.” After one action is completed, create new action plans to move your closer to your goals.

To set the motion to your action plans, insert it in your schedule and follow it. So if your goal is to “speak to a financial planner”, set a time and date in your to-do list with “Call financial planner”. If your goal is to learn about the stock market, put “Read about the stock market from 10pm-10.30pm daily” on your daily agenda.

Monitor yourself and hold yourself accountable. In the end, it all boils down to discipline. It won’t always be fun and games and there will be days when you don’t feel like doing anything you planned at all. But stick to your schedule, and make sure you always put in free time to unwind. And the next thing you know, you would be closer to your goals than you’ve ever been, all fully automated.