It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and figuring out how to deal with it is the pressing question. Overwhelm is what happens when you get too much of something. You can be overwhelmed by remorse, sadness, or by any emotion that you don’t know how to deal with. You can also be overwhelmed by people, places, and things, like the laundry, a traffic jam, or the news.
The cause of being overwhelmed is different for everyone. When I was in Los Angeles, I was overwhelmed by traffic. Now that I’m back home, I’m overwhelmed by the list of things I want to accomplish in a given day. I take one look at my to-do list, feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what needs to be done, and suddenly, I’m paralyzed. I know I need to make phone calls, write a new blog post, take the car for an oil change, and shop for groceries, but instead, I’ll plop down on the couch and read a book or watch something on Netflix.
Whatever the cause, feeling overwhelmed is unpleasant.
Recently, I decided to conquer my beast. After looking at my list, I realized that the 25+ items fell into a few basic categories. Sorting the list into three main categories—personal, my writing business, Don’t Stop Now book—and prioritizing each item within a sub-list helped decrease my anxiety. The next step was to pick the most important item from each sub-list and assign a due date. Do I really need to get everything done today—or even this week?
I decided to limit to three the number of items that must be accomplished in a given day. There are days when I do more, but only because I’m on a roll, or feel inspired. What helped the most was putting the tasks on my calendar. For example, I go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. The grocery store is on my way home. Instead of shopping on Tuesday (because I always have), it’s more convenient and a time-saver to stop on a day when I’m already driving by.
Generally, nothing on any of my lists is an emergency. Instead of spending time agonizing over what needs to be done, it’s much easier to put it on my calendar in a logical place and just do it.
By the way, my new mantra is Just Do It!
To summarize, here are the four steps I’ve been using to avoid feeling overwhelmed by tasks involved with daily living:
- Sort my to-do list into a few basic categories.
- Pick the most important from each sub-list and assign a due date.
- Limit the must-do items to three per day.
- Add the must-do items to my calendar in the most logical place.
What makes you feel overwhelmed? What are you going to do about it?
Jan Fishler, MA, is currently co-authoring a new book, Don’t Stop Now, Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (DontStopNow.us). She is also the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir), and has written several articles about alternative health and PTSD. You can learn more about Jan at www.JanFishler.net.