I can get so overwhelmed with all that is on my to-do list that I shut down and hide. You might have your own avoidance and/or coping methods. But a piece of advice from a favorite speaker of mine has helped me make progress on this bad habit and start to even gain momentum on tackling them.

I may have gone through an entire, jumbo-sized box of tissues in the last week. It’s that time of year, time for colds to move in as the weather gets unpredictable. And along with colds comes the inevitable loss of energy to accomplish much at all. As I struggled to take care of the basics for my kids and my home and my job through my cold-muddled haze, a list started to grow. It’s the list of things I need to take care of but can wait. By the start of this week, the list was getting uncomfortably long.

Sometimes when I get a to-do list that feels overwhelming, I get paralyzed into inaction. Do you do that too? When we look at the HUGE list before us to tackle an odious project or a so many small projects that we feel overwhelmed, we can freeze. Freezing becomes avoiding. And before your know it, you have not tackled anything that needs to get done but you are totally rocking the high score on Candy Crush. Sometimes hiding from what we need to do but don’t want to do feels better than facing it head on.

I’ve always struggled with this tendency but when my husband was alive, I had his encouragement and help to tackle the odious tasks I’d rather hide from. Now I just need to woman-up and take care of what needs to be tackled. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. I know that all too well.

A favorite speaker and writer of mine is Kathi Lipp. She has a hashtag that is more than a cute thing to tweet—it’s a serious way to tackle your overwhelming to-do list. Her hashtag is #onesmallwin. She talks in much of her writing about choosing the easiest thing you are avoiding and just doing it. When you have accomplished that task, you get kind of a rush of accomplishment. Take that rush of satisfaction to fuel you to tackle the next easiest thing on the list. Soon, you have momentum built and the things you were hiding from are getting checked off and taken care of.

This week I determined to try the “one small win” method and it worked like a charm. I powered through several phone calls for appointments I had been avoiding and jumped into some deep cleaning I’d been in denial over. Then a few other small projects were tackled and I had enough momentum going to make some delicious homemade soup in quantities to freeze for later as well. Can I just tell you that victory in a fresh bowl of chicken wild rice soup tastes pretty good.

If you are hiding from a list, I encourage you to write it all out in one place. Then reorganize it from easiest thing to most difficult thing. Then pull up your big-girl panties and just dive in from the top and see if you can gain your own momentum.

When you are a single parent, it can feel overwhelming when all those details fall to you. But you can do this. Sometimes the way you do it is one small win at a time.

What is your best method of tackling an odious task or list? I’m always eager to learn new ideas and would love to read yours in the comments.




  1. Elizabeth Spencer September 30, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Love this! I am totally going to embrace #onesmallwin. My related general life approach in recent years has been “just do the next thing.” The next thing that has to be done, the next thing that needs to be done, the next thing that should be done.

    • Jenn Buell October 2, 2017 at 9:31 am

      LOVE that–“just do the next thing.” What a great focus to keep a long list from becoming overwhelming.