Title Card - Mental Load

Mental Load

If you ask anyone how they’re doing, they’ll almost always tell you that they’re super busy and have a lot of things to do. While some definitely have a lot more on their plate than others, it seems to be a fairly consistent trend across the board where most people seem to think they have a lot to do.

Keep in mind, this is really a relative measure. Most will certainly consider someone with over a 100 items on their to-do list having a lot to do, but even someone with two items may consider it a lot for them as well. Not to mention the fact that these 100 items could almost all be single-step tasks that take 2 seconds to complete while the person with 2 tasks may have 100-step items and take several days.

But this isn’t really the point of the exercise here. This article isn’t meant to properly define what busy really is, there isn’t a true definition for that. What we are trying to say is that no matter how busy you are, there are things that you may have to consider which could be making things feel worse than they have to.

Have you ever had a time when you were trying to complete a task, and the only thing you could think about was the other tasks you have yet to finish? This is a compounding problem, because you are unable to dedicate the necessary mental resources you need to the task, slowing you down and adding further time pressures. In effect, having to constantly think about unfinished tasks makes it harder to complete your tasks. There is another type of person who allows themselves to focus on a task at hand and gets better results, but also cannot remember the rest of the things they have to do. While this type of person has allowed their mental capacity to be unlocked for their current task, they’ve allowed their memory to slip and then worry about the tasks they can’t remember.

Each of these people have a piece of the puzzle, but haven’t yet put it together to make a cohesive, functional system. To be most effective in each of your tasks, you have to ensure:

  1. You have created a list of tasks using the method that works best for you, and
  2. You allow yourself to focus on one task at a time, removing mental load and increasing efficiency.

Obviously, for a lot of people this is easier said than done. Many people still stick to old habits even if they are actively using the tools they need to solve their problem. Don’t feel discouraged if this happens to you! Learning to control your mental load is not an easy task, especially if you have been contending with this problem for years.

With enough perseverance and a willingness to improve, new habits will form and you will eventually find yourself being more productive and feeling less busy. I had to go through this exercise myself, and I can certainly say that I feel much better knowing that I’m not forgetting something constantly.

What about you? Do you feel overwhelmed by tasks sometimes? What are your coping mechanisms to help you get through the day?