Oops I did it again.
I thought I was a reformed over-committer but yesterday I slipped off the wagon.
Of course I blamed ProBlogger – when you go to a conference you can’t help but get overexcited about all the things you’ve learned and just want to implement them all immediately. My brain was in overdrive, zinging about all the things I could do for all my blogs, but at the same time reminding me I had a heap of other work related stuff to do in addition to stuff around the house. Stress started to build and by the end of that day I was vagueing out and walking around with a haunted expression on my face.
When I sat down to examine how I got there though, I learned two things:
- It wasn’t ProBlogger’s fault!
- Things weren’t as bad as I thought
But first: What is overwhelm?
We all know the feeling I am sure. It’s the one where life feels a bit out of control, where everything is rush rush rush, and where we feel like we’re not giving the best of ourselves to the tasks at hand. I don’t know about you, but it does my head in a little when I feel like everything I am doing is only getting half my attention because I am thinking about eight other things at the time!
Whenever things get like this, I fight back with a list.
- Lists take away the pressure of having to remember
- Lists allow you to turn your brain off for a while
- Lists make you feel like you are back in control of everything
- Lists reduce overwhelm
Whether you actually back in control of everything is irrelevant, the simple fact that a list can shut down the brain chatter and reduce your stress levels is beyond invaluable.
So what’s the best way to go about it?
1. Write down EVERYTHING you have to do
And I mean everything. Yesterday I basically word vomited on a page – I wrote down things like ‘call plumber’ and ‘de-frost meat for dinner’ and ‘meet Kaz and Kate for lunch’ in addition to all my work related items.
I went through and wrote when I anticipated doing the item on my list. Then when I saw I had written “Wednesday” next to a zillion things, I could see it was time to prioritise.
I was just about ready to put a line through a lunch I had planned with two girlfriends before I realised I was getting my priorities wrong. I shifted my thinking, re-prioritised my day around making time for lunch and discovered how easy it was to move things to other days and even write things off completely as ‘just not that important right now’.
3. Work out the next day in advance
Literally write down everything you are going to do on the next day, in the rough order you are going to do it
4. Leave an hour or two uncommitted
As you may know, I tend towards the hyper-efficient. This used to mean I would plan too much for a given day because I knew I could get it all done. The reality of a day though is that the odd thing here and there will crop up and require your immediate attention. When I would plan too much in a day, anything unplanned would rock my world and make me stressed because I hadn’t allowed for it. I am now MUCH better at accommodating contingencies in my day now.
5. Tick it off
When you’ve done something on your list, even if it is “pack Jaden’s bag for daycare”, tick it off. You get a pleasant little mental jolt from ticking something off as ‘done’.
At the end of a long day when you’re feeling overwhelmed – the last thing you may want to do is sit down and write anything. You probably just want to collapse into bed, but I suspect that you will probably lie there in bed turning all the things you need to do the next day in your mind. And undoubtedly, something will pop up that makes you think “oh crap, I’d better not forget to do that”! Getting everything down on to paper will allow your brain to switch off and give you the great night’s sleep you need to take on the next day with gusto!
Now excuse me, I need to go and tick this post off as ‘done’!