Feeling overwhelmed is something I often experience in my adult life. As an entrepreneur who is bootstrapping my own business, I have to learn various skills to keep my business moving. If I want to start a podcast, I have to learn how. If I want to update my website, I need to learn those skills too. When facing big projects and learning new skill sets, it can be overwhelming. Throw in family and life responsibilities, no wonder 8 out of 10 American’s feel stressed.
Just because our lives are busy, doesn’t mean we will always feel overwhelmed. I have learned various tactics to curb overwhelm and use them whenever the feelings start to creep in.
1. Write everything out
The first thing I do when I feel overwhelmed is to write out everything I need to get done. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I have so much stuff to get done, and it is all floating in my head. To get it out of my head and clear my brain up, I create a list. This is how the prioritized to-do list, my free guide, was born. When I had a big goal, like launching a website, it was overwhelming to me all the little and big things that needed to be completed. I would start with a brainstorm and write out everything I could think of. That normally made me feel better to have everything out of my head and onto paper. Our brain is not built to remember stuff but to create and think. When you have all this info just bouncing around up there, it clogs up your mind so it can’t do what it does best.
For me, I like to take my brainstorm a step further. Once I write everything out, I want to organize it, so I don’t have to think about what to do next. I prefer my lists prioritized based on urgency and importance. To learn how to do this, download the free Prioritized To-Do List.
2. Do One Task
When I feel like I am facing an endless to-do list and feel overwhelmed, I focus on completing one task. Usually, I complete an easy task, especially if I have limited time. Take a look at your to-do list and figure out what is one thing you can do right now. This is extremely helpful if you have a lot going on and need to make progress, even if it’s tiny.
The action of completing a task will help drive away feelings of overwhelm. For me, inaction makes me feel more overwhelmed. Typically, when I complete one task, I am motivated to tackle another. It’s a nice side effect. However, sometimes, I am only able to complete the one task I focused on, which is okay.
3. Take an Intentional Timed break
I know to take a break when feeling overwhelmed sounds counterintuitive. Trust me, it’s not. When I am feeling extremely overwhelmed, I take a break. This can look like taking your dogs out for a walk or playing with them in the backyard. It can even be a 20-minute power nap. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you time it. You don’t want to have a timed break, and you jump on social media and never return.
I know when I feel overwhelmed, and I get outside, I feel a lot better. Try taking a break and do something outside, even if that is sitting on a park bench.
I also notice that if I am feeling overwhelmed and tired, I benefit greatly from taking a nap. Make sure you set the alarm to wake up in 20-30 minutes. After my nap, I feel loads better and am ready to tackle my to-do list.
4. Talk with Someone
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to share your feelings with someone else. This can be an accountability partner, significant other, or close friend. If you are at work, this might even be your manager. Talk about why you are feeling overwhelmed and what you are overwhelmed about. Usually, when I talk about it with someone else, they help me realize that the mountain that I see usually is more of a gentle hill and accomplishable.
When it’s the middle of the day, and my go-to people are busy, I crack open my journal and write down all the things that I am feeling overwhelmed about. This is where I use the 5 Why technique to get to the root cause of why I feel this way.
6. Create an Action Plan
This is step two, regardless of what you do in step 1. Depending on how I feel and what route is available to me, step two is ALWAYs, creating an action plan. That could look like assigning due dates to the different things on the prioritized to-do list or planning out a large project weekly. I always feel so much better when I have a plan!
7. Tidy up your workspace
Tidying up my workspace is something I always try to do, but it helps when I feel overwhelmed or even stuck on a problem. When I look around my office, it usually has gotten a little disorganized. I put on upbeat music and start picking up things and putting things away. I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I tell myself, I will focus on this and get everything picked up. Usually, when that timer goes off, I feel so much better, and that overwhelm seems a little more manageable. It is hard to go after big hard projects if you are sitting in a chaotic, disorganized mess. Don’t underestimate the power of a clean and organized office!
Those are all my tips and tricks on how to deal with overwhelm. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt the weight of feeling overwhelmed. I especially think it is normal when you embark on a new project or skill, so be patient with yourself. Let me know which overwhelmed tactic works best for you!
Now that you know how to deal with feeling overwhelmed, it is time to take action! Download my free guide, The Prioritized To-Do List by filling out the form below.