Overwhelm – the word we use to describe so much coming at us at once that we can’t quickly identify the individual parts.
There are two ways to deal with overwhelm.
- Ignore it and move on
- Spend the time to identify the individual parts.
When any of your five senses are overwhelmed (hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste) a lot of times we just ignore it (or enjoy it) and move on. Emotions are another story, and I’ll leave that up to you to decide how to handle. However, when your thoughts overwhelm you, specifically your responsibilities, that’s where I have some definite thoughts.
The difference between being overwhelmed by your responsibilities (or to-do list) and most the others is that usually the other overwhelms occur once and then you can decide – quickly – whether to experience it again. For example, the taste of that dish was overwhelming; do I want to experience it again or not?
When your responsibilities overwhelm you, you still have that choice. However it requires a bit more time to ensure you don’t experience it again. If no action is taken, you’re pretty much assured that you’re going to feel overwhelmed again rather quickly.
So, how do we prevent overwhelm from happening again, once we’ve already experienced it? Stop or slow down! Yes, I realize that might sound completely counterintuitive. You want to get something done! Not add something else to your list of responsibilities!
However, I bet that’s part of the overwhelm right there, you don’t actually have a written list of your tasks. They’re all in your head, fighting to not be forgotten.
So, what’s your first step to avoiding or handling overwhelm? Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Yep, sit down and write it all out.
Then, if you have someone to delegate to, decide what you can delegate to them and delegate it!
Next, decide what really must be done this week (or today). Yes, I know you want to do it all, but give yourself a break! There are only so many hours in the day and you need and deserve some time for yourself and your family. So, go through your list and decide what must and can be done and let the rest go until next week.
And repeat this until you actually have reasonably doable list.
As you go through your day, you’ll probably think of more things to add to your list. Add them! That way you’ll remember them and you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed later. Remember to continue to be realistic about what can be done in a week!