How to Avoid New Idea Overwhelm

Have you ever been to a seminar or an event where you got a bunch of really great ideas that you wanted to put to use right now? And then you took a look at all the ideas and got a bit of a sinking feeling in your stomach (aka overwhelm) because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of that and still do things like sleep?

Guess what! You’re not the only one who has felt this way! And, I have some strategies that will help.

Before The Event
Before you travel to the event, make a plan. How will you capture the things you want to work on later?

Decide how you will immediately capture those things so you have them all in one spot and won’t have to spend time looking for them. And don’t plan to write the things you want to do later in the margins of your handout.

Instead try one of these methods:

  • A small notebook or pad of paper
  • Small two-inch sticky notes that you stick into a notebook (one sticky note per idea)

In the past I’ve written the things for later in the margins. Then I forgot about it or missed it when I was reviewing the hand out later. And that’s if I reviewed the handouts later. So, by capturing them outside the handouts, you’ll have everything in one place.

During The Event
So, now you’re at the event with your plan.

  • Immediately jot those ideas, projects and tasks (things you want to work on later) into your notebook or onto a sticky note
  • At the end of each day go through your handouts and add anything that got missed or you want to review again later

Sometimes it’s helpful to put down the page of the handout that your idea came from. Or to make a note of the pages you want to review in more detail later.

After The Event
If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of things you want to work on after the event.

  1. Pick the top one or two things that you want to complete
  2. Make a list of the daily and weekly things you do (it’s easy to forget about those things in the excitement of your newly created tasks).
  3. Estimate how long each task from the event will take to complete
  4. Prioritize your tasks from the event
    1. The tasks from step 1 are your highest priority
    2. Not all of the things you wrote down will be appropriate for where you are right now. Yes, it’s probably a great idea, but it might not be the best use of your time.
    3. The things that you can do quickly and will have the greatest impact area a higher priority.
  5. Divide the tasks from the event into three categories
    1. Do it this week
    2. Do it in the next month
    3. Do it later
  6. Plan the tasks for this week.
    1. This means give each “this week” task a day it will get done. You’ll probably need to go back to step 3 and move some of this week’s tasks to one of the other categories
    2. Don’t forget that those daily and weekly things from before the event are important too! Leave time for them.
  7. At the end of the week repeat the steps! It should go a bit faster because you’ve already done some of the work!

Breaking up your event tasks so you know what’s important now and what can be done later will help with some of that overwhelmed feeling. If you still need a little help with it check out these two blog posts: Are You Still Feeling Overwhelmed and Time Management Observations.

What would you add to the above lists?