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Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Do You Feel Like You’re Behind? 7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm

Do You Feel Like You're Behind? 7 Ways to Conquer the Overwhelm“I have so much to do, it’s insane.”

“My to-do list is a mile long.”

“I will never catch up.”

Sound familiar? Do you feel like you’re behind, like you’ll never get caught up? That feeling of being behind causes some serious overwhelm, and that overwhelm blurs your vision and clouds your thoughts. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because that overwhelm kills both your creativity and your productivity.

Overwhelm can cause frantic action, when you’re thinking, “I’ll work really hard and get all this stuff done so I can finally breathe.” The rushing causes you to feel super stressed, and you’re not sure how long you can keep up the pace. Your productivity suffers as your attention stretches too thin.

Or maybe that overwhelm paralyzes you — you aren’t sure what to do first, what is most important because it all seems important, it all seems urgent. So you do nothing because you just can’t deal.

Overwhelm kills both your creativity and your productivity. Click To Tweet

Both of these scenarios send your mind to negative places, and you find that you’re beating yourself up for taking too much on, for not being productive enough, for not working hard enough. The negativity spirals until the overwhelm wins.

Change your thinking

The key to conquering that overwhelming feeling of being behind is to change your thinking. Focusing on the past, on the things you didn’t get done, will get you stuck and set you up for failure. Instead, focus on what you can do, what you can control.

Think about what is truly important to you. We try to be everything to everyone, but in reality, we may actually be accomplishing nothing because we are not focused. What is one big thing you want to work on right now? Is it something you can focus on for the next month?

7 ways to conquer the overwhelm

  1. Whenever possible, put like activities together. I have two kids. They always go to the dentist together, on the same day, same time, so I only have to deal with it once. Doctor appointments are always scheduled one right after the other. If I have errands to run, I’ll set aside time to do them all in one day. Think of it as batching tasks.
  2. Before you add any task, ask yourself if it’s something you really need or want to do. Don’t fill your calendar with stuff you hate just for the sake of doing things. It’s OK to say no and create margin in your days.
  3. Organize your task list. Go through your to-do list, and reorganize your tasks. Cross off anything that you really don’t need or want to do. Group similar tasks together, such as errands, phone calls, emails, online work, home tasks, etc. Mark the most urgent tasks with a 1, important but not urgent tasks as a 2, and tasks that aren’t urgent or vital with a 3. Make it a goal to do at least one #1 task per day.
  4. Done is better than perfect. We often procrastinate because we think we won’t be able to do the task perfectly, and that leads to projects staying on your to-do list for far too long, creating that “left behind” feeling. You do nothing because you don’t think you’ll do it well enough. It’s hard to perfect something that isn’t there, so how do you plan to make your project good enough when you don’t have a place to start from?
  5. Do it now. Whenever possible, start the task right away. Don’t put it off. Recognize that you won’t have more energy, or more time, or more inspiration, tomorrow. Make it as easy as possible to start now.
  6. Schedule time to check email, social media, read the news, any of those little habits you tend to do throughout the day. Don’t use them to fill the time, or to distract you from more important tasks. Write down when you’re going to do them, and for how long. Put that in your calendar or post a sticky note somewhere that you’ll see every day and follow that schedule. Don’t let those little habits take you away from tasks you need to finish.
  7. Check your phone and delete all those little apps that you waste time on. Remember Candy Crush? I could waste hours on that game. Maybe it’s not a game that distracts you. Is it social media? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Delete those apps from your phone now, at least as an experiment. Same goes for iPad. Try it for a week, and see if you get more time back to focus on more important things.

Will you ever finish every task on your to-do list? No, none of us will, so making “to-do list zero” isn’t a viable option. Give yourself some grace, organize your tasks, and be thoughtful about adding more to your plate. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re not behind at all.

Give yourself some grace, organize your tasks, and be thoughtful about adding more to your plate. Click To Tweet

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