Having always been something of a busy bee, I’ve always considered juggling a natural part of life. Since becoming a parent, the juggling required has gone to a new level. Even with a demanding job, there was previously a great deal of predictability to my schedule. Add Baby Maximiser into the mix, take-away predictability and you have the ultimate recipe for complete overwhelm. Some days everything goes swimmingly, others it’s an achievement just to get dressed and step foot outside of the house!
I’ve learnt some valuable lessons over the years to help prevent becoming completely overwhelmed. Both from experience and from tips passed on by the great friends I have. These have helped me get my feelings in check when overwhelm comes creeping along. So here they are…
Take some time out to clear your mind. Have a nap, catch up with your friends, exercise and release those endorphins. Do something that doesn’t require you to think too much and takes you away from the problems. That break will allow you to come back fresh, with a little more energy to tackle things.
Accept that your to do list will NEVER be empty
Trying to clear your to do list? You’re fighting a losing battle. With pulls from various areas of our lives the odds are as you complete one task, three or four more have popped up. For people like me who love crossing items off that list, accepting that the list will be on-going is a significant part of the battle!
Check your environment
I’m a firm believer that the state of your environment really has an impact on how your feeling. When I try and get stuff done in a messy room I just can’t focus. If you have lots of clutter in your view, how can your brain concentrate? Maybe it’s just me but I’m convinced having a quick tidy and de-clutter works wonders.
Get it out of your head and onto paper
Overwhelm for me is usually driven by a million and one things whizzing around in my head and not knowing where to begin. As more and more stuff comes up you just feel worse. What feels like a jumble in your head will become 100 times clearer written down.
I find mind maps the perfect dumping ground for all the thoughts whizzing through my mind. It helps me break them up according to the area of my life (e.g. family, work, etc), which I can then use to help prioritise. For you it may be making a straightforward list or sticking them in your phone or tablet, whatever works best.
Know when is the best time for you to get stuff done
Are you an early bird or night owl? We each have a time of day where we find we are most productive. I’m definitely a morning person, so try to get the most important stuff then. Night time just doesn’t work for me; I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Some people swear by it. Have a think about which works for you.
We live in a world where everyone seems to be constantly multi-tasking. It often results in making a little progress across a variety of things, with nothing completed. Or maybe you’re a multi-tasking pro and get through everything you need to. Whilst the jury’s out on its productivity impact, I’ve found focusing on one task (where possible) results in quicker output and quality.
Learn to Say No
This isn’t something to feel bad about and will help you keep your sanity during the most overwhelming times. Ever tried to please everyone only to end up with lots to do and no time to do it? Those items that don’t need you to do them shouldn’t find their way onto your to-do list. If you’re struggling to say no I’m not doing that, try “I can’t do that right now, but I can do…” That works in a lot of cases where things are coming my way that are “urgent” (marked urgent but not pressing at all).
Say Goodbye to Perfectionism…
…And hello to good enough. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying get your tasks done in a half- hearted way. What I am saying is that whatever you do it will never be perfect! You’ll sit there for hours and the payoff will only diminish the longer you spend trying to perfect it. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
Accept that Sometimes Things go Wrong
One thing we can guarantee is that sometimes things go wrong, so why not incorporate a little slack? This way you’re less likely to go completely off track and feel even more overwhelmed if it does go left. On the flip side, if things go well you’ll be ahead!
Look after yourself
Often the first thing to fall down the list of priorities. Making time to look after you is a must! It will make you feel a lot better.
All of the above have helped me overcome periods of overwhelm. What have you found works for you?