Feeling overwhelmed can be . . . well, overwhelming. The intensely stressful feeling of overwhelm can affect you mentally, physically, and emotionally—which only further inhibits your ability to get anything done and makes you feel more overwhelmed than ever!
If you’re feeling this way now, we get it. We feel you. All of us have been—and will be—overwhelmed by life. It’s natural, especially when you have designed and are working to live a life that you love. But just because you feel overwhelmed doesn’t mean you have to stay overwhelmed. That’s why today’s post is the first in our next three-part series: How to Develop Your Own Personal Plan to Overcome Overwhelm.
When it comes to feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to focus on the macro picture—you have too much to do, too much on your plate, too much going on. The first step to fixing the issue is getting closer; zooming in on the micro details that make up your life. What are the things taking up space in your head that are causing you to feel overwhelmed in the first place?
Identifying the details of what you need to get done and how you need to take care of yourself helps you know what strategies to employ and where to start to get out from under feeling overwhelmed. Yes, you may have a lot to do—but there are specific things you can do to ensure that you aren’t feeling the pressure of doing it all and doing it all at once.
Just keep in mind that knowing why you feel overwhelmed—because you’re not using your time well or have forgotten your priorities, for instance—is not about making you feel guilty; it’s about offering you clarity! After all, how can you begin to fix the problem when you don’t know what the problem is? And that’s the issue with overwhelm—it’s one big, vague, nebulous problem that is impossible to solve until you identify all of the unique problems that cause your overwhelm.
So let’s start identifying them! You can start by asking yourself a few questions:
How Am I Spending My Time?
This may seem like a silly question, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are probably also asking the question: Where does my time go? You feel busy all the time—and yet, nothing ever seems to get done! You are not alone. You just need to get clear on how you are spending your time. Start tracking your days hour by hour (or in 30- or 15-minute increments, if you like a good challenge!), using your Day Designer or even a blank piece of paper. Make note of what you’re doing in each chunk of time: are you reading and responding to emails, cooking for your family, or scrolling through Facebook? When you look back on how you spent your day or your week, where are you spending the majority of your time? Know that you don’t need to change or fix anything right now. This is just about gaining clarity—you may be surprised to see how you have been spending your days, and that awareness is good enough for now.
How Am I Organizing My Life?
Once you’ve taken a look at how you’re spending your time, you can ask yourself how well you’re organizing everything you have to do. Is every to-do living up in your head? Do you have several different scraps of paper around the house, with different tasks and thoughts written on them? Do you have a planner sitting on your desk that you’ve yet to crack open and use? Again, there’s no reason to feel bad if you’re not effectively organizing your life—your time, your to-dos, your thoughts. You’re human. And it makes sense that you might not be on top of organization when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The point of this question is simply to get clear on how you’re organizing your life, so you can later come up with strategies on how you might do it better!
How Well Am I Focusing On My Priorities?
Finally, review your time again and consider how well your different activities align with your priorities. If your family is your top priority, are you spending quality time with them on a daily basis? If you’re focused on professional advancement this year, are you making time to nurture your career? It can be all too easy to lose sight of our priorities when we’re overwhelmed; by taking a step back and looking at how we’re really spending our time, it’s easy to see that often our priorities become ignored completely. Get real on how much time and attention you’re actually giving to the most important areas of your life—if you’re not giving those areas as much energy as they deserve, you can come up with ways to fix that. (More on that later!)
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These questions are just the start, of course! They are meant to help you get clear on what you’re doing and why you might be feeling overwhelmed. Download our three-part workbook to start developing your own personal plan to overcome overwhelm. With our “Reality Check” worksheet, you can record your answers to the questions above.
Coming up on the blog, we’ll be talking about how to tackle your overwhelm and how to organize your chaos. Update: The next post is now live! Let’s begin creating the hands-on strategies you need to tackle each problem and begin overcoming overwhelm for good! Click here to continue reading.