The following post is Part 2 of our latest series on overcoming overwhelm. Did you miss Part 1? Head over here to get started! Plus, download our FREE three-part printable workbook to follow along and create your own personal plan.
Last week, we talked about feeling overwhelmed and we showed you how taking time for a reality check is the first important step to overcoming that feeling. Today, in Part 2 of our latest series, we’re sharing six specific strategies that you can use no matter which area of your life feels like too much to handle right now.
Start By Taking a Break From It All
You’ve probably heard the adage about filling up your own cup before you can fill up anyone else’s, right? Well, it’s an adage because it’s true. And your first two strategies are based on just that: giving yourself a break. Because here’s the thing—if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you likely have too much on your plate, and you’re probably not devoting a lot of time to yourself. And if you’re not devoting even a little time to yourself, you’re likely not doing anything very well. Take a break and take care of yourself first when you’re overwhelmed. You can start by giving the next two strategies a try.
Strategy #1: Block Off Time to Do Nothing (At All)
Yes, we know this seems counterintuitive in a post about feeling less overwhelmed, but no matter how much you have to do, you will continue to feel overwhelmed if you don’t create space for yourself. Pull out your planner and block off time for yourself. Go ahead and do it. Right now. You may need to cancel or reschedule something else; that’s fine. While it may seem like you don’t have enough time to do this, that’s exactly the problem—you likely haven’t made time for yourself. Time to breathe, time to reflect on what you’re grateful for. This is your life, remember? Be sure to make space for yourself in it.
Strategy #2: Do Something Else
If you’ve got a million things on your mind, why not give yourself a break and start by doing something else? Something you enjoy . . . something you’ll look forward to. Not everything in life has to be an assignment or a requirement on your to-do list. You can (and should!) do things that are on the list simply because they bring you joy. Can you think of one of those things now—that person you’d like to reconnect with or that activity that calms you down or that exercise class you’ve been hoping to try? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try doing something else first; something that brings you peace—not because you can cross it off a list, but just because it brings you peace.
Then, Get Back to It With Laser Focus
Now that you’ve given yourself a well-deserved break, you can dive back into what needs to get done. But here’s the thing—you need a plan (that’s why this blog post series is super helpful, if we do say so ourselves!) and you need to gain some momentum. The next two strategies are all about helping you tackle the overwhelming areas of your life in a way that serves you . . . and don’t add to the list of things you already have to do.
Strategy #3: Write It All Down
This might seem like a waste of time, but we promise—it’s NOT. Writing it all down is the best antidote to an overwhelmed brain. Pen and paper (and planner) give the brain a break from having to remember every single appointment, project, and bill that’s due. For some reason, the human race has collectively decided that we have to keep track of every one of life’s responsibilities in our heads. But that’s not only no fun . . . it’s not possible! And it’s exactly why you feel overwhelmed. Start by writing down every single thing that’s floating around up there—every to-do, every worry, every big dream. Let it all out and let it live somewhere besides your head for awhile.
Strategy #4: Decide What to Do, Delegate, or Delete
Once you know all that you need to get done, it’s time to figure out what you don’t actually need to do. That’s right—you don’t have to do everything yourself! Consider this your permission slip to take a look at that brain dump from the last strategy, and decide what to do, what to delegate, and what to delete. This is one of the key strategies shared by productivity experts everywhere . . . because it works! Be honest with yourself about what can only be done by you; what can (and probably should) be done by your partner, a coworker, or a friend; and what you can just strike from the list. That big ‘ol list that’s been living up in your head? Only a part of it needs to be done by you. Make sure you know what’s yours to carry—and where you need to let go.
Set Yourself Up For a Successful Tomorrow
Rome wasn’t built in a day. (Perhaps you’ve heard?) Similarly, your to-do list won’t be demolished immediately after reading this blog post. You have made great strides already, but you’re just getting started—and one of the most important steps to getting started is to start your day with a clear space (ahem, tidying up a bit might help!) and setting yourself up for success the next day—and the day after that and the day after that. These last two strategies will help you do exactly that.
Strategy #5: Identify Your Top Priorities
At this point, you should be pretty clear on exactly what you need to do . . . you just can’t do it all at once. Some of the items on your list could be immediate action items and others might be big, long-term dreams. Go through the list and identify the to-dos that are your top priority. You could start with your five-year priorities, your one-year priority, or even your priorities for the next month—but this section is about setting up for a successful tomorrow, remember? So, if you want to go easy on yourself (and you do—this is about overcoming overwhelm, not adding to it) just prioritize what needs to get done the next day. Remind yourself that you’re human and you can’t do it all all of the time . . . and you certainly can’t do it all in the next 24 hours. And remember why you’re doing any of this—think back to your personal goals and why you chose them. It might motivate you, or it might show you what needs to get removed from your list. So now, if you had to pick three things to get done tomorrow, what would they be? Those are your priorities. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Strategy #6: Let Go of Perfection
This last strategy is an important life lesson and oft-needed reminder, whether you feel overwhelmed or not: You need to let go of perfection. Nobody is going to get it right all of the time—not even you—and that should be okay. Give yourself permission to forget something, mess something up, or run out of energy. Understand that not everything can get 100% of your time, energy, or attention. You are not perfect. None of us are. And the sooner that you let go of thinking that you should be, the sooner you will free up your mind and your heart to enjoy this one life you’re living . . . no matter what’s on your to-do list.
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To follow along with this series, download our FREE three-part printable workbook to help you determine the best strategies for yourself and develop your own personal plan to overcome overwhelm. Next, we’re going to share the best tools to overcome overwhelm—once and for all! You won’t want to miss it.