Katie Ashley on Doing More With Less Stress

Do you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list?

Last year I decided that I was done feeling overwhelmed. It was exhausting and I was tired of it on every level. I wanted to feel productive, accomplished, and at ease.

To bring my desired feelings into my life I decided to look into my intentions, actions, and results to see where I could make productive shifts to my work ethic, spiritual practice, and lifestyle.

One of my biggest stumbling blocks was my never ending to-do list. I had a million things to do in my business, hundreds of household chores and projects, a huge list of things I wanted to do for or with my family, and a whole host of things I wanted to do each day for myself in the arenas of self-care and spiritual practice.

It was impossible to get it all done, and the progress I did make daily was negated by the guilt and overwhelm connected to not getting more done. 

To shift this annoying and unhealthy pattern I decided to make a few key changes:

1. Set clear key goals. 

Taking a page out of traditional business operations was not an action step that I anticipated being so aligned with my yoga practice but it turned out to be. Setting a key goal for each quarter of the year feels very much like setting an intention. It allows me to measure all potential actions against the goal and helps to lessen my tendency to get side tracked by shiny objects, exciting ideas, or interesting offers.

Example: Quarter 1 is all about completing and publishing my first book, Living Life On Purpose. Quarter 2 will be focused on launching a podcast. In the self-care arena Quarter 1 was all about noticing and increasing pleasure and Quarter 2 is going to be focused on mindful movement.

2. Assign a time frame.

Parkinson’s law is an adage that states “tasks will expand so as to fill the time allowed for completion.” I found this expansion of tasks to be causing a constriction in my sense of freedom and ease. Scheduling when I was going to do what, and for how long, helped greatly. Of course tasks often shift if something urgent and important comes up, but having a plan drawn into my planner helps me see how I can shift things in a logical way and still cross the planned items off the list.

Example: Wednesday has a time block dedicated to writing, editing, and scheduling blog posts. If something both urgent and important comes up on Wednesday I can shift my writing time fairly easily because I know in advance how I can adjust my schedule for the rest of the week. In the self-care arena the same applies. I schedule a weeks worth of yoga classes (to take) on Sunday night. If no classes fit my schedule I pencil in when I will have time for a home practice.

3. Batch and serial create. 

I had already started batching and serial creating, in a sense, before I heard Jonathon Fields talk about it on The Good Life Project. Essentially, batching is simply scheduling like tasks with like tasks. When combined with having a key focus for a set period of time it leads to serial creation. Listen to the podcast for an inspiring rift on this concept here.

Example: When it was time to send emails asking thought leaders in my field to review my book I set aside two full work days to so. I didn’t attempt to do anything else. I simply gave myself the time and space to send a heartfelt note to each person and I felt connected, productive and accomplished when I was done.

4. Get okay with letting go and leaving tasks undone while having integrity. 

This twofold step could be the most helpful of them all. I had to get comfortable with letting go of some of the tasks on my to-do list, literally scratching them off or putting them on the back burner indefinitely. Doing so was much easier than expected and created a sense of lightness and ease immediately.

The second half of this step is essentially saying no to things more often and gracefully canceling commitments that are causing a drain on energy, inspiration, money or time that is greater than the return. Canceling commitments feels super uncomfortable to me, so I’ve found I prefer saying “no” over saying “yes” and then having to back out.

Marie Forleo has a few great videos about this step. Check them out here.

5. Know that self worth is not determined by how much gets done. 

This is the often the driver for overwhelm. Many of us unconsciously tie our self worth to external measures such as our productivity, bank account balance, Facebook likes, party invites, or clothing size. The problem is that we will never measure up. The bar continually raises and the targets move. Only when we believe in our inherent “enoughness” can we cut the ties.

Meghan Hale has a wonderful podcast called the Enoughness Revolution. I highly recommend checking it out here.

I hope that these tools serve you well. I’d love to hear about how you put them into practice in your life. Feel free to tag me on Instagram or connect via Facebook, and as always, you can leave a comment or question below.

Much love,


This was originally published on Katie’s website.  

Feature image by Aaron Burden.

Katie AshleyKatie Ashley is a positive body image and Self love activist. She offers yoga therapy based mentoring to clients worldwide from her studio in Charleston, SC. Through her writing, speaking, live workshops and online programs she offers her vast array of tools, insights and experiences to those who want to fall unconditionally in love with their bodies, find their voices, and connect with their pasts in useful and inspiring ways. She believes that every person is capable of unlimited healing and inspired personal evolution and it is her calling to help guide those who desire it, and are ready, on their journey towards experiencing it for themselves. She writes often as a regular blogger for Recovery Warriors, Women Enough, and Charleston Grit and contributes occasionally to Yoganonymous, BaliniSports and Elephant Journal. She is a Gather Yoga emissary and Jade Yoga ambassador.

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