When you’ve too much on your plate, just do what you can in 30 minutes. Then stop.

You’ve got too much to do. We all have too much to do.

But you only have one life. Only so much time to fit in everything you believe you’re supposed to do.

I often struggle with this myself. The amount on my To-Do list really is never-ending. If I could work 24-hour days for the next year, I still wouldn’t have checked everything off.


Sometimes I let this get to me. But most of the time I think it helps to ignore those nagging worries about The List, and simply to get on with living in the moment, getting done what I can today, and knowing that tomorrow’s another day—another chance to tackle another batch of stuff.

I can’t always block out the big picture worries for long, but putting in an hour at a time seems to work.

I’m sure it seems odd, but one of my most useful pieces of kit is an electronic kitchen timer. It’s flashing away in front of me right now in fact. I’ve given myself sixty minutes to do some writing, and have a target of what I need to get done before it emits its friendly little beep.

You’ve got too much to do. You won’t get it all done today.

So give yourself a target and block out a shortish chunk of time. You’ll probably surprise yourself when you achieve more than you thought you would.

As I just have. There goes the beep.

4 thoughts on “When you’ve too much on your plate, just do what you can in 30 minutes. Then stop.

  1. Thanks for this reminder Jon. I very often feel swamped and I have found, especially at work, if I give myself a certain time todo something in, I very often find I get more done than I anticipated… It also works well with housework..as you say though, when the time is up finish…

  2. Hits the spot as ever, Jon.

    Personally I use the Pomodoro technique, dividing my life into 25-minute sections of work, interspersed with 5-minute breaks to run up and down the road and keep my activity monitor happy. I use Pomodoro for writing and for housework, though during the latter the walking breaks sometimes lengthen into full-blown hikes. Oh, and I wore out three kitchen timers before installing an app on my phone.

    Thanks for all the nudges.

  3. My daughter who has a four year old boy as well as 15 month old twin boys often finds herself overwhelmed with her to do list. I – as the Grandma- sometimes feel the same – just trying to lend a hand as well as my own activities. One of the things I keep reminding both of us- is exactly what you are saying in this post- you can’t do it all today and we remind each other to take breaks for fun!
    Thanks for another spot on post!

  4. Such a simple idea yet so helpful! Great lesson to teach school age children too. My goal this year is more discipline. I plan to use this approach to help get things done. Thanks for the nudge!!

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