3 Steps You Can Take When You Are Completely Overwhelmed

blog Dec 01, 2019

Sometimes, the feeling of overwhelm is just so great that it prevents you from doing anything. Here is a 3-step process to get you back in action.

You wake up one day, stare at your “to-do” list, start thinking of #allthethings that need to get done, and it is so overwhelming that you literally freeze.  There is SO much to do that you just don’t know where to start. 

You move stuff around on your desk for 30 minutes, can’t find any motivation and just give up and go watch TV.

Sometimes, the feeling of overwhelm is just so great that it prevents you from doing anything.  This typically happens to me after I have been on a trip, been under the weather for several days, or have extended company.

I am a creature of habit….so when I get out of my usual routine for too long, I start to feel like I am losing control.

Different things cause states of overwhelm for different people, but it happens to everyone.

 

When this happens to me, I go through this simple 3-step process to get back on track:

 

  1. Grab a pack of sticky notes and write down one thing per note that has to get done.  This serves as a way to get all the noise in my head out of my head and on paper where I can “see” it.  It slows your brain down and keeps it from churning so much.  Put absolutely everything from laundry, work tasks, errands, appointments, etc. 
  2. Once all of the things are out of your head, review your list and identify the things that have to get done in the next 48 hours. Just the “must do right now” tasks.  Open up your calendar and create appointments with yourself to get those specific tasks done.
  3. Next, review the list and grab the tasks that need to get done in the next week. Just the next week.  Repeat the same process in step 2 and create the time on your calendar to get those tasks done.

 

Once these 3 steps are done, move into action. 

What about the rest of that list you ask? 

Leave it…for now.  Right now, your goal is to get back into action, get some momentum going, and achieve a sense of accomplishment.  Spend the next few days following your plan and checking things off your list.  Once your week is complete, you can review the rest of the tasks and start to prioritize those.

This system has worked for me for years.  As I write this, I am sitting in my mother-in-laws gorgeous mountain house…with little to no internet access…and my stress level is creeping up a little more every day we are here because of all of the things I know I need to do that are not getting done. 

However, I also know that when we get home tomorrow, I will jump right into this 3 step plan and after 24 hours, I will be back in a groove and working through my tasks. 

 

It will be fine.  Nothing bad will happen.  All will be well.

My pink stack of post-it notes are calling to me.

Check out Episode 8 of The Work Like Harmony Podcast for more details on this process.

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