Moving Past Overwhelm

I sat down at my desk today, and where I’ve been organized and chugging along at a good pace lately, this morning I felt anxious, and uncertain where to start. My to-do list(s) are getting longer. Lately I don’t have a lot of easy items, and I keep trying to finish things, only to end up with more action items in addition to what I’m trying to accomplish, while more tasks pile up. So much of the time we get to a place of overwhelm: long to-do lists, work demands, family commitments, outside stressors. The more there is, the more procrastination sets in, and doubt, and then panic.

So if you find yourself having a day (or week, or month), like this, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge you’re overwhelmed. Just own that part for a moment. It’s ok to be overwhelmed. If you don’t have a to-do list written, try to get down on paper (or eletronically), everything you need to do; that way it’s out of your head and captured somewhere that you can analyze all of it. And then try to focus on one task — just one. What’s the most important thing on the list? This morning for me it was contacting a new trash company and figuring out what I have to do to switch to a new service, get new bins with the new company, cancel service with the old company, return the old bins to the old company, etc. Lots of steps, and talking to people. But it was one task. Just one.

And 30-ish minutes later, it was complete. New service lined up. One action item to follow up with for Friday on the old service. But I got that one big task (that I’d been putting off), crossed off the list. So then I tackled another item. And another. And the momentum built from there.

Sometimes it’s as simple as chunking it down. Do just one thing – the big thing, or the scary thing, you keep putting off. Bargain with yourself: I can get another cup of coffee after I do this thing. Let’s just finish this task and I can check what’s going on on social media for 10 minutes. Climb out of the overwhelm with small, measured steps. Slowly, that to-do list will get smaller. You’ll start to see progress and that anxiety will lessen.

Best of luck with everything you’re trying to get accomplished this week.

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