Overcoming Overwhelm - My Go To Tools
The overwhelm has hit me hard this week. It’s something I’ve managed to avoid for quite a few months but inevitably, the overwhelm beast has made a return.
It’s had me feeling low, grumpy and it’s really fed my inner critic. Oh yeah, my inner critic has been in overdrive this week, screaming and shaking it’s fists with banana in hand.
I imagine my inner critic to be a child-like, screaming chimp - for anyone who’s read the chimp paradox you’ll get this.
Perhaps it’s the time of year. The end of year approaching always feels like a looming deadline. Then there’s the Christmas run up to add which always piles on more pressure. But I know from the conversations I’ve been having on Instagram that I’m not the only one feeling like this so I thought I’d share this with you in solidarity.
I’m by no means immune to overwhelm (I mean, see above!) but I have learned to cope better with it over my side-hustling years. After a couple of days of feeling stressed out and a bit low I dug into my toolkit and pulled out my overcoming overwhelm tools and put them to work. Seeing as I know it’s not just me dealing with overwhelm at the moment I thought I’d share my go-to tools.
Here’s what I did to overcome my overwhelm
Put all of my todo’s in one place
When I feel overwhelmed I tend to remember different tasks that need doing all the time, they pop up in my head when I’m driving, walking the dogs, at work and when I’m just about to fall asleep. I’ve found that recording these as and when they pop into my head is the best way of calming my mind and telling my brain I can stop worrying about certain tasks. This does mean though, that I have lists everywhere. In my phone notes, in my emails, in my google docs, in notebooks, whatever I had to hand at the time when that thought appeared. So, I sat on the floor with all of my notes and put all of my todo’s on to one big list.
Well actually I made two lists, a life list and a side-hustle list - because it’s when both seem to get busy that I tend to suffer with the overwhelm. If you’re in the same boat I highly recommend making two lists for yourself too.
Next I took that list and I underlined the most impactful or urgent tasks that have to be done this week (like writing this blog post). It’s really important to be pretty cut-trroat here. Ask yourself - what are the most impactful things I can get done this week?
I also put a star next to the tasks that would take 2 minutes or less and did them right away. The 2 minute method is always a winner for me. Lots of quick wins and you get a dopamine boost from crossing things off your to do list.
And the other stuff - push it to next week. If it can wait push it back.
Make a daily todo list of just 3 things
Having a smaller to-do list, for me, means less time reading my to-do list and wasting time deciding what to do. If my to-do list just has the top three most important or impactful things that I can do that day, I find I’m much more likely to get those things done.
Try challenging yourself to write a to do list of just 3 tasks for the day or evening. I find this much more realistic and I’m much more likely to get to the end of my to-do list which I always find uplifting and energising.
So those were my immediate, short term actions but I’m also taking some measures to fend off the next bout of overwhelm, which are:
Getting back into routine
I’ve been getting behind with my batching and constantly playing catch up with my content recently. I’m usually pretty good with batching my jobs. I try to schedule all of my blog posts for the month on one Friday, edit and schedule my podcasts for the month the next Friday and so on. But with all of the other things going on like launching my course Make a Plan > Make it Happen and my 12-week planners the content has been left behind a little.
On the plus side it has reminded me what it feels like to get behind with things. It’s stressful doing everything at the last minute and unless you’re happy to put out mediocre content, it starts going out later and later. This isn’t how I like to work and it’s made me realise how much of a game-changer batching really is.
Making time for me
When I’m feeling overwhelmed I find the first thing to go is self-care, the irony is it’s when I need it most. I recently chatted to Jessica Rose Williams for my podcast on creating the lifestyle you want by taking your side-hustle full time. Jessica talked about making time for self care and we both agreed that when we make time for it we’re more productive. So why is it the first thing I forget to make time for when I get overwhelmed?
I’ve scheduled in some catch ups with friends and written going for a daily walk or having a long hot bath into my weekly habits section in my weekly planner (which by the way you can get free when you sign up to my newsletter).
Are you also feeling the overwhelm at the moment? Feeling frazzled and a little down about the state of your todo list? Please know that we all suffer with it and secondly, please know it’s just temporary. Have a go at the first three points in this post to see how you can get on top of your todo’s. Once you’ve talked that I’m pretty sure you’ll already feel better. But don’t stop there, future proof against future overwhelm by getting into a routine and making time for yourself so that you can recharge.