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Career Corner: One Thing at a Time

Courtesy photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

By Angela Copeland

We’ve all been there. The list of things you have to do or to manage suddenly grows. It can feel truly overwhelming. And that’s because it is overwhelming.

When you look down and find a giant to do list, you wonder how you will achieve any of it. But, when you break the tasks down one at a time, each item on the list is often manageable. There’s nothing you don’t know how to do.

During the pandemic, many people are finding themselves overwhelmed. They’re pushed to the edge with family responsibilities, health concerns, home schooling, and working from home. At times, there’s a good chance you are one of these people. I know I have been.

When you find yourself at this place, start by creating a list. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Jot down all of the things you need to take care of. Then, write down the amount of time you think each task will take. From there, take a look at your schedule to see when you may be able to achieve these goals.

You’ve probably done this before but it’s a good concept to remember when you’re feeling under water. I often use this exercise to sort out my goals for a particular day, week, or month.

But, very often, when I reach the point of feeling overwhelmed, I will set a goal that is one or two steps below what I think I can actually achieve. It’s not in an effort to achieve less. Backing the goal down gives me the breathing room that I need to both achieve the other items and my list, and to do them well.

It’s a great idea to push yourself but sometimes if you push yourself too hard, you will fail to meet the goal. Normally, that can be a good thing as it can drive you forward. But, if you’ve reached the point of being overwhelmed, feeling like you’re failing will only make it worse.

Remember, this is a crazy year. Frankly, every day feels more unbelievable than the last. Your job during this time is to keep things calm and on track.

When it comes to career, if you can, try to keep moving on your normal goals. There are many things you can do that don’t take much time. If you have extra time, you might want to update your LinkedIn profile. Or you may want to revamp your resume. Or you might want to attend a seminar virtually. It’s really interesting to see just how many conferences have moved online this year!

But, whatever you do, don’t do everything at once. And, if someone asks you what new hobbies you’ve learned or what new goals you’ve set, remember that it’s not a competition. A pandemic is not an opportunity to prove anything to anyone. It’s a time to stay physically healthy and mentally stable.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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