If you feel overwhelmed by all of the things that are pulling at you on a daily basis, and it feels impossible to find a way out from underneath it all, this post will help! Whether you’re navigating something particularly difficult and stressful, or you’re just at a busy stage in your life where everything feels like a 911 emergency, these tips will teach you how to get yourself back to a place of calm so you can plan, prioritize, and execute like a boss.
What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
1. DO A BRAIN DUMP
When you feel overwhelmed, one of the first things you should do – after a little deep breathing, of course – is a brain dump. Write everything you need to do on a piece of paper and then organize each item into different buckets:
- Things that can be done quickly right now
- Things that need to be done before the end of the day
- Things that can wait until tomorrow
- Things that can be scheduled for a later date
- Things that aren’t a priority and can be taken off your plate
Next, open up your calendar and start assigning dates to each item. I like to knock off the simple tasks that take minimal time immediately to help me feel accomplished and in control again, and then I start to plan out the next 7 days. I consider the importance of each task along with the time it will take to complete it, and then come up with a plan on how to divide and conquer.
If time management isn’t one of your strengths, consider using a tool like The Productivity Planner to help you identify your most important tasks and stay accountable without feeling overwhelmed.
2. TAKE A BREAK
Yes, I’m serious. When you feel overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing you can do is allow yourself to take a break. This might sound counterintuitive, especially when you have a million different things pulling at you at the same time, but the time away will help you clear your mind and gain perspective, allowing you to feel more relaxed and in control so you can focus on the important stuff.
Keep in mind that taking a break doesn’t need to be an olympic event. Walking around your neighborhood, calling a friend, or enjoying a warm cup of coffee while looking out the window can all help you feel more grounded.
3. STOP TRYING TO MULTITASK
While it feels great to knock a million items off your never-ending list of things to do each day, did you know that multitasking can actually make you less effective with your time? The key to productivity is to do fewer things for more effect instead. Focusing on ONE task at a time allows you to be more efficient, and enables you to give 100% of your effort.
Of course, this can be difficult to remember when you feel overwhelmed, but once you get into the habit of tackling one task at a time, you will be able to power through each item on your agenda more quickly and with greater accuracy.
4. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
If you’re someone who feels more accomplished and in control when you can visually track your progress, you may find it helpful to create daily or weekly ‘to do’ lists that include items you’ve already finished. This will allow you to start your day with a few items already crossed off your list to help you feel ahead instead of behind, and you can continue referring back to your list each time you feel overwhelmed as a reminder that you are making progress.
5. USE YOUR ENERGY EFFECTIVELY
If you’re trying to figure out how to stay afloat when you feel overwhelmed, you’ve probably read a lot of time management tricks. Things like creating schedules, turning off distractions, and delegating tasks to others are certainly helpful, but managing your energy is just as important.
If you’re new to the concept of energy management, the idea is simple: figure out when you are at your most productive, and then organize your schedule such that you can take advantage of that time to tackle your most important tasks. When done correctly, you will be amazed at how much extra time you will have at the end of the day to engage in other things that would otherwise get pushed off, like spending time with your kids or going on a spontaneous date night with your S.O.
6. WORK IN BATCHES
‘Batching’ involves grouping relevant tasks together and tackling them in one go rather than splitting them up over the course of a few days, and it’s one of my favorite productivity hacks. Many people work in batches in their working life, but few people realize how effective it can be in our personal lives as well. Set aside an evening or two each week to take care of mindless tasks – cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, etc. – so you aren’t constantly borrowing time needed for more important tasks several times throughout the week. You will be surprised at how much your productivity increases when you aren’t constantly breaking your concentration to take care of mindless tasks!
7. STREAMLINE YOUR HOUSEHOLD
If you feel overwhelmed on the regular, it may be time to adopt new habits that will allow your home to operate more smoothly. This will look different for everyone, but here are some ideas to consider:
- Assign age appropriate chores to your kids. CLICK HERE for a list of ideas by age!
- Compile a collection of easy recipes and create a weekly meal plan.
- Order your groceries online.
- Stock your freezer with meals you can defrost and reheat on busy evenings.
- Block off 15-30 minutes each evening to clean/organize high traffic areas of your home.
- Wash a load of laundry each day.
- Fold and put away the previous day’s load of laundry each day…
…you get the idea!
Quality sleep is an essential part of your overall health, both physically and mentally. Adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night in order to function properly and perform at peak productivity, but when life gets busy, sleep is often the first thing we let slip. We sacrifice sleep to help us stay on top of all of the things that are pulling at us for attention, and while this may decrease feelings of stress and overwhelm in the short term, sleep deprivation actually makes it harder for us to cope with stress over time.
If you feel overwhelmed more often than not, commit to getting 30-60 minutes of additional sleep each night for 30 days. I think you’ll be amazed at what a difference this small change will have on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Find it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep? CLICK HERE for some great tips and tricks to help you get a better night’s rest!
9. SCHEDULE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
The last item on my list of tips for those who feel overwhelmed on the daily is to prioritize time for yourself. I know this sounds counter-productive, but sometimes the best thing you can do when you’re finding it hard to keep your head above water is to unplug without feeling guilty about it. Remember that taking the time to engage in regular self-care isn’t selfish – it’s necessary! When we take care of the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of our lives, we reduce emotional issues (like stress and overwhelm) and the physical reactions they create, leaving us with more energy and motivation, and making us better able to handle the challenges life throws at us.
THIS POST has a list of lots of great self-care activities you can find the time and energy for, even on your busiest days.
If stress and overwhelm have taken over your life, I hope the tips and ideas in this post help you learn how to pause, assess, plan, and prioritize so you take control over your schedule instead of letting your schedule take control over you!