Tips for Catching Up (When Your To-Do List Wants to Kill You)

Jan 6, 2016

I think we all know by now that I majorly struggle with adjusting to reality after returning home from an extended break—I like to think we all do. But, I’m trying to get better, I promise.

Anyway, coming back to work after my holiday break has been no exception. As I’m sure you could tell from my blogging break yesterday, I’m feeling a little buried. I’m beginning to feel like I’m making progress and chipping my way out—but I still have a ways to go before I’m feeling completely “back to normal”. Although, let’s be honest, that overwhelmed feeling probably is my “normal”.

So, today I thought I’d share some tips for catching up after some time away. It’s easy to feel like your to-do list is out to get you in these moments. But, with a little strategy and organization, you’ll be back in control in no time!



There’s no doubt that your to-do list will be overwhelming upon returning from some time away. And, if you’re like me, you feel the need to write absolutely everything down in order to get it out of your brain and out onto paper.

But, that means I end up with a to-do list a mile long that’s just incredibly discouraging. My list is so daunting, I can’t even find a good place to start.

So, I’ve started to make separate lists. My to-do list is reserved for things that need to get done that day—I keep all of those random reminders out of the way. The house chores I need to tackle go on a completely different list. And, then I also leave my journal open to jot down those other things that pop into my head and need to get taken care of eventually.

It might seem like overkill. But, I promise, it helps. It allows me to really zero in on my to-do list and get moving—rather than feeling paralyzed by the amount of tasks on it.


Email is one of those things that piles up while you’re away. And, even if you checked in every now and then during your time off, you likely didn’t spend much time actually addressing the tasks and to-dos in the messages.

So, sifting through that cluttered inbox is going to take some time. But, I recommend designating a specific chunk of your day to just that task—in fact, it might be how you want to get started, as it’ll help you prioritize.

Tackling and sorting all of those pesky messages in one swipe is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, you’ll feel great when it’s all done. And, secondly, it ensures you don’t miss anything crucial, as you aren’t hopping back and forth between projects and emails.


You’re not the only one catching up after the holidays—everybody else is too. So, if your inbox is anything like mine, it’s constantly filling up with reminders, status updates, and questions that only pull your focus away from what you’re working on at that moment.

After I’ve sorted through all of the emails that stacked up while I was away, I make a point to actually close my email tab. That way, I’m not constantly getting distracted—meaning I’m working more efficiently and making progress on my ultimate goal of powering through my to-do list!


I know that readjusting to reality after some time away can be a bit of a rude awakening, and it’s easy to feel completely swamped and overwhelmed. But, don’t sacrifice all of your downtime for the sake of productivity. Your sanity is just as important.

Ensure that you’re still reserving a few hours at the end of the day when you can relax, unwind, and take a deep breath. You’ll get through your seemingly endless list of to-dos eventually.

Until next time!