Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled


Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled

Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled

In David Allen’s excellent book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, he outlines five stages to mastering your workflow. These stages include:

  1. collecting the things that command our intention,
  2. processing what they mean and what to do about them,
  3. organizing the results,
  4. reviewing the options, and,
  5. doing!

He also mentions that one’s process is only as good as the weakest link. However, what if you are the weakest link?

cute photo

You Might Be the Weakest Link

In my years as a professional organizer, the one thing that really caused the most disorganization in people’s lives was the inability to make a decision. People would routinely have piles all over their homes and offices, and not have the slightest clue what to do or where to start. I’d like to call this “decision fatigue.” And it’s what leads to clutter. If you need to work on making faster decisions, here’s a helpful article from Success Magazine: 9 Tips to Make Smarter Decisions Faster. I like the idea of using a timer, so decisions don’t linger forever.

boxing gloves photo

Be Ruthless

Now in organizing physical stuff as well as the chores you need to do for your business, you need to be absolutely ruthless. If there’s something that isn’t going to help your business, you need to take out your biggest rubbish bin and throw that thing away (and by the way, having a BIG rubbish bin really helps–trust me on this). Putting off decisions will lead to clutter on your desktop, on your desk, and nothing will get done. Or things will get done very slowly, and painfully. This also goes for people who aren’t sympathetic to your work life. You don’t have to cut them out of your life forever but pivot away from those things that bring down your energy level. See How Pivoting Away from Drama Will Make You Less Stressed.

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It’s Counterintuitive

Making decisions will give you more energy, although you might not think so. You might think that putting off that decision will help you avoid your negative thoughts about it. Not so. It will still weigh on your mind like the proverbial albatross. And unless you really love having giant ocean-going birds hanging around, you’re probably better off without them. So if you’re feeling really tired and frazzled? Make a few decisions and see whether your energy levels improve. Want to get some other ideas? Here’s How Tired Business Owners Save Time: 10 Terrific Ways.

open door photo

The Metaphor is Yours and Yours Alone

Whatever metaphor you use, making decisions about the tasks at hand is up to you. Some people say you need to eat the frog first thing in the morning. In other words, do your most unpleasant task first. Personally, I’m a tactile learner, so my metaphors are usually about physical action. I like to hit things out of the ballpark, for instance. And I like to start with small wins. So, keeping with the baseball metaphor, maybe I’d bunt the ball and get to first base to create some momentum, rather than eating a frog. I like Brian Tracy’s story about eating the frog.

hand to photo


If your funds allow, outsourcing some or part of your work could be very helpful. See my post from last week about outsourcing your blogging. You can outsource practically anything. Have someone help with sales calls, picking up the phone for you, or what have you. You can even hire a CEO if you need to! Here’s a list of some things you might consider:

  • Making appointments
  • Graphic design
  • Shopping
  • Research

In fact, you may want to outsource everything about your business and then take a vacation. After all, you deserve one, right? Or only do the parts of your business that you really enjoy doing!

hand to photo

Take Enough Time to Sharpen the Axe

In organizing for your business day, just like in organizing your home, you need to spend a little time and figure out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. That means planning. Without some kind of a roadmap, who knows what you’ll end up doing all day or how long it’ll take. There will always be unplanned events and emergencies, but if you already have a plan, they’re less likely to sidetrack you. I like to spend at least 5-6 minutes (preferably 15!) writing down a to-do list for the day. And it’s best to write your list the night before, to get all those nagging things off your mind so you can sleep! The next morning, you’ll probably come up with a few more items to add to your list, too.

hand to photo

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

If you’re really tired and frazzled, sleep might be part of the problem. A lot of us really do not get enough sleep. Here are my Ten Reasons to Get More Sleep So You Can Conquer the World. Sorry–you can’t outsource sleep, although it’s possible to get a sleep coach if you really get stuck. But if you’re running a small company or startup, you need all your brain power to solve problems. Getting enough shuteye really helps. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s very common for people to say things like “I can sleep when I’m dead,” as though sleep were something merely optional. It’s not.

sunrise photo

Collaborations Give You Energy

Sometimes the best ideas come from people who do the same thing you do. Do you have a group of people who support you, help mentor you, and that you help in return? Your peer support group can save you tons of time and energy. There are many support groups online. For instance, Facebook groups are a good place to look. And if you like an in-person group, Meetups are a great place to discover like-minded people.

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The Doing

Arguably, the most important part of time management is the doing. That is, if you’ve actually gone through and collected your items, processed your list, organized, and reviewed everything appropriately. After all, you don’t really want to be one of those “do something–even if it’s wrong” people, do you? Probably not.

sunset walk photo

Are You Tired and Frazzled?

What has helped you move from being tired and frazzled to alert and excited about work?


  1. What a great kitty photo, Carol!!!! Soooo cute.

    I am the weakest link. Yikes!
    I love this post!!! The following section is something I can start tonight. I’m a big fan of lists & the suggestion to write one’s list at night rocks – that just might be a breakthrough for yours truly:

    “I like to spend at least 5-6 minutes (preferably 15!) writing down a to-do list for the day.
    And it’s best to write your list the night before…”

    Another thing that helps me move through the tired/frazzledness zone is listening to “focus music” on
    YouTube. It’s New Agey but it truly does seem to help me get with the program and feel less fatigued, more laser-like! Even if it’s just a placebo effect, who cares as long as it works, right?

    Here’s one jam I listened to while working on my book. I’ve probably heard it 50 times!


    Thanks again for a terrific post. I’ve officially declared tomorrow to be “Decision Friday” — wish me luck!

    • So glad you liked the kitty photo, Dyane! Those kitties do get around, don’t they? (As I write these words Mrs. Stripey is batting the screen–it’s pretty darn cute.)

      Thank you about the lists. Writing them tends to make my mind off the next day’s chores–maybe they’ll do the same for you. Even three minutes helps an awful lot.

      Yes, I like to listen to “focus music,” too. Or even wind chimes or frogs or birds chirping. Sometimes around here, those sounds are outside–lately it’s been happy and drunk robins visiting the trees in back.

      Thanks for the YouTube link to your music. The images were a little strange–I think it opens with a stethoscope(?). But I guess the images aren’t the point. Anyway, very relaxing!

      I hope Friday turned out well for you!

      Best to you, my friend,

  2. Hi Carol,
    This is such a wonderful post with great visuals. Thanks again for such helpful information.


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