Speaking of feeling overwhelmed…Not long ago, I experienced my “hit-bottom” days. My kids had been sick, my husband had just gotten better and gotten sick again. Being the only one who had been healthy and making sure the household is running smoothly, I finally cracked from being incredibly overwhelmed.
Has this happened to you?
When my life becomes overwhelming like that, I lean on the following practices that never fail to make me feel better.
Feel overwhelmed? Go to sleep
First thing I always do is to ensure I get enough sleep. We underestimate the benefits of a good night sleep. No number of productivity tools can help you work smarter when you are tired and not thinking clearly. And it’s not a coincidence that sleep deprivation has been used as a torture mechanism.
Some of the techniques I used to get myself to go to bed on time is to set a reminder on my phone. Sounds silly but it works! I’ve also made sure to let my husband know of my plans to go to bed early so he’ll not tempt me with another episode on Netflix. I know it’s tempting to watch yet another video on your chosen social media but if you don’t do anything else in this article and just do this one thing of going to bed on time, I promise you, you will feel a ton better tomorrow.
How much is it worth to you to think clearer, feel better and have more patience with your children? By the way, here’s what Arianna Huffington says about sleeping your way to the top.
Make a list
As a parent and a leader, we are juggling a lot of different things. Appointments and activities for the kids. Work to review, documents to write, and meetings to attend. The number of things we’re responsible can feel overwhelmed. One thing that works for me is the process of writing everything I need down on a large piece of paper. I’ve tried brain dumping on printer paper, IKEA drawing paper or a whiteboard etc. It can be quite freeing to unload things from your head unto something you can see clearly.
Do the one important thing today
Now, what do you do with the list of things you’ve written? I prioritise the items on my list. I try to put items in categories if there are more than 10 things on my list as it becomes unwieldy. Next, I pick only ONE thing to do today. I pick a second thing to work on only if I’m done with the first. This is so I don’t have three things on the go and all of them unfinished.
Schedule time to work when overwhelmed
Perhaps like me, you get frustrated when you haven’t had the chance to do what you love doing. Schedule that activity on your calendar. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done and it’ll just become something that you’ll do “later”. Talk to your family and let them know that certain times of the day you are not available and it’s non-negotiable. I noticed if I get to meditate and do my writing, I become a more present parent when I get back to my family. As a mom, it’s easy to feel guilty for taking time out for yourself. One way to reframe this guilt is to understand that when you’ve focused on yourself and your work and you’re happy (because it’s fulfilling you), you’re more present with your family and they will enjoy you more.
Wake up early to work
Another thing I’ve done is to start waking up early to write. This might not work for everybody so being really aware of when you have the most energy and when you’re most inspired is important.
One school of thought that’s circling around is imagining your willpower as a bucket. When you wake up in the morning, your bucket of willpower is full. Throughout the day, you slowly use up your willpower by making decisions, solving complex problems and being really patient with your kids. And by the time the kids are in bed, you have very little willpower left to work on things that matter to you. The idea of waking up early is so that with more willpower, you can focus better on the task at hand. If you’re on the fence and need some inspiration, here’s Robin Sharma’s viral video on how to wake up early.
Reverse engineer your goal and set a deadline
Sometimes, you have a goal you want to achieve but it’s overwhelming because it feels like there’s just so many different things to get done to get to the goal.
One technique I’ve tried that works really well for me is to set a deadline on the goal. Some people are motivated by the pressure of a shorter time frame to achieve a goal. Others are motivated by not having the time pressure of achieving the goal. This is where your self-awareness would come in again. How do you tend to feel motivated?
For an example…
Having a website up and running by next month could be a goal you want to achieve. That can sound super stressful for someone who has no experience or an idea how long that might take. What does it mean to have a website up and running? Is it enough to just have a homepage? Or does your website has to have ten blog posts already? Knowing myself, I do really well with small, manageable goal that has time pressure but not too intense that it will overwhelm me.
When I was working to launch this website, my goal was to only have a homepage, a contact page, a work with me page and an about me page in order for me to launch. I did not have any opt-in offer or blog posts set up. I focused on those pages and was able to finish that within a month.
So, what are the goals you want to achieve by the end of this month? Can you reverse-engineer them down to smaller steps or tasks you can do to get there? Even if you are not able to achieve this goal by the end of the month, you are way closer to completing it than before.
I’ll leave the most important for last. The difference between people who are more successful and those who are not is not that they are smarter or more talented or luckier. Successful people start even if everything is not clear yet. They apply what they’d learned and don’t wait for it to percolate. They start doing. I’ve certainly been guilty of over-analyzing and over-researching an idea. What’s been refreshing lately for me is that the things I’ve achieved this year is not because I was clear on the path to success, rather, I just started with what I knew and things got clearer the more actions I took towards what I want.
What is the ONE thing you can do right now that will ease you away from feeling overwhelmed to being more in control and at ease?