The Simple Solution

Like you, I have too much on my plate. I frequently feel overwhelmed. And when I do, I sometimes feel that I will never, ever, get it all done. And when I begin to feel that way, I sometimes cease to function at all. Which means, of course, that I don’t get it all done.

That then gets me even more paralyzed. And then I really don’t get anything at all done.

That, for me at least, is unacceptable. And that unacceptability is my saving grace.

I can no more not do what I need to do than I could stop eating. So I’ve had to come up with ways to stop feeling overwhelmed and just get on with it.

The thing that saves me is a simple to do list.       to-do-list

In my office, I keep a flip chart that has:

    • Active clients
    • Outstanding proposals
    • Upcoming workshops
    • Special projects

Normally, that’s enough to keep me focused. But sometimes I feel that I am dropping balls, missing deadlines, not doing the things I need to do. And that when I revert to a simple list on an old-fashioned pad.

I jot down what I have to do TODAY and maybe tomorrow. Then I take an educated guess as to how long that task will take. And then I prioritize—what comes first, second, etc.

The next step is to fit my to-do list into my calendar. Here’s where I need to be realistic. If I am appointment heavy, I may not be able to get everything done today. So I need to figure out when I can get it all done by, and if that is acceptable. I also need to look a little further done the road and see if I will bump up against any other deadlines.

Then I take a deep breath….and generally discover that it is not so overwhelming after all.

Knowing that, I get (back!) to work.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity and build more committed boards. Her down-to-earth approach ensures that organizations get where they want to go. Learn more at or email her at



About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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