You know those horrible, and far too regular, days when you are feeling overwhelmed with tasks?
Those days when everyone and everything is demanding so much from you that you really don’t think that you can take it anymore. Those days when it feels like your head is going to explode.
Let me help you manage the overwhelm. IT IS POSSIBLE. It just takes some awareness and action.
#1 – Take deep breaths.
When we are stressed out, the first thing that we do is we stop breathing. Well, not literally stop breathing, because then we would die. But we do unconsciously hold our breath because of increased tension in the muscles used for breathing.
When you are feeling overwhelmed remember to breathe. Deep breaths into your belly in for 3 seconds and out for 3 seconds. Put your hand over your belly so that you can feel it filling up with air. Do this over and over until you feel a little calmer. Repeat throughout the day as necessary.
It will help you A LOT. I promise.
#2 – Go for a walk.
If it’s at all possible, take some time to go for a walk. There isn’t a woman I know who doesn’t say that her stress levels are always greatly reduced after a walk.
The thing about walking is that it kills two bird with one stone.
Walking encourages deep breathing which calms you down quickly. Also, for some reason, the motion of walking encourages clearer thinking. The rhythm of the stride and the increased oxygen intake can make something that was extremely overwhelming just 20 minutes earlier much easier to manage.
#3 – Identify what is causing the overwhelm.
One of the reasons it’s hard to think straight when you feel overwhelmed with tasks is that you don’t understand what is specifically overwhelming you.
The first step to getting past being overwhelmed with tasks is to identify what specifically is overwhelming you. To do so, make a list of your tasks.
One of the reasons overwhelm occurs is because we know that we have a lot to do but we don’t know exactly what needs to be done and that is overwhelming in and of itself. Once you have a list made of everything you have to do, once it’s laid out on paper, you will have a much clearer vision of what you need to do.
For one of my clients, just knowing what she had to do helped reduce her overwhelm significantly.
#4 – Make a plan.
Once you have made your list, it is time to make a plan. Without a plan, the overwhelm usually doesn’t just disappear. In fact, it can get worse because know you have your list and no way to attack it.
Once my client had created a list then I had her review the list and make another list, this one listing her tasks by priority. Things that needed to be done soon were at the top of the list and things that could be put off were put lower down on the list.
Then, once she knew what her priorities were, it was time to build her calendar.
Here is what we did. Every Sunday night we made a calendar for her for the week. On it, in red, were the things that she HAD to do. Doctor’s appointments, driving to soccer, her half hour walk, 1 hour of writing. And then, in green, were the things that she wanted to get done. Balancing her checkbook, cleaning out closets, making some phone calls. She added things in black as things popped up during the week.
Those items in red were non-negotiable. If an emergency came up and she wasn’t able do a red item then she had to immediately reschedule it for another day that week. It wasn’t allowed to fall through the cracks.
The green items were treated the same but they could be moved to the next week if necessary.
The black were things that tended to get done because they were last minute and she was able to get them done because that’s how she thrived, with a time limit.
She knew I would be checking up on her so she stuck to it as agreed.
It took a few weeks but using her calendar really allowed my client to be as productive as she had always hoped to be. And being so productive ramped up her self-esteem in a big way. She realized that she wanted to keep doing this, on her own, because she liked how she felt and she didn’t want to let herself down. So, she did. I was proud.
#5 – Find accountability.
This is a big part of my role as a life coach. We all need accountability. Someone to encourage us to get things done and to help us figure out why when we don’t.
I know you have your friends and your family and your co-workers to support you but more often than not those people will lean towards supporting you, to listening to your rationalizations and letting you off the hook.
I know the importance of staying on track, both for productivity’s sake and for building self-esteem. Productivity is important for its own sake – things need to get done. Period.
Another reason productivity is so important is because of it’s effect on your self-esteem. My clients are always so hard on themselves because they can never get things done, they are so far behind, they let other people down. Not doing these things can boost one’s self-esteem significantly. And having higher self-esteem makes one more prone to being productive. See how that works?
It’s a win-win in so many ways.
#6 – Get some help.
We all need help but we hesitate to reach out for it. I would argue that asking for help is the best way to help reduce feeling overwhelmed with tasks.
Can you hire a housekeeper every other week? An accountant to manage your money? A nanny to give you some hours off? If you can afford to do so, DO! I know it seems like an expensive investment but I can promise you that it’s far cheaper than therapy if you have a breakdown.
So, consider investing in some professional help. If you can’t afford help, find a friend who is a good organizer and barter for her time. Perhaps you can take care of her kids, or bake some cookies or help her finish her work project.
Whatever you need to do, get some help. You will be glad you did!
So, now you know. When you are feeling overwhelmed with tasks there are ways to get past it and get past it quickly.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed get outside and go for a walk, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Breathe deeply as you stride. You will see that your overwhelm reduces significantly right away.
As you walk, consider what is overwhelming you so that you can make a list and then make a plan to fix it. And then make it happen. Your life coach can hold you accountable if needs be.
And don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. We all do sometimes.
Manage your feeling overwhelmed with tasks. Don’t let it manage you. You can do it!
Are you feeling completely overwhelmed with tasks?
Let me help you learn some tools, NOW, before the overwhelm gets worse!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.