When I sat down to write this post, I instantly became distracted by a text message, then Facebook, then my dog asked for out. Opening the door to let her go for a run, my mind raced to a work project left undone. It’s all a bit ironic given my topic this week. You could say it’s been a hectic week and, it’s only Tuesday!
In talking with a few friends, I’ve found I’m not alone; others are equally as overwhelmed with deep to-do lists. So what do you do when life is coming at you from every direction – when “overwhelmed” is the best one word to describe your day? I’ve compiled a list of a few things you can do:
- Brain dump – Putting the list you’re carrying in your mind on paper can free up the energy needed to maintain the mental list. Jot down a list of the items overwhelming you.
- Prioritize – Once you have the list, ask two questions for each item. Is it important? Is it urgent? In the event several are both important and urgent, ask which is more pressing and give that item the higher priority.
- Identify your top 3 priorities – Rather than focus on a long list all at once, identify the three that absolutely need to be completed first. Don’t allow the other items to creep into your focus before those three are
- Get rid of distractions – Turn off the TV, avoid social media, don’t let other non-essential tasks or thoughts interrupt your progress. If possible, remove the distractions that are stealing your attention or at least work to minimize the impact.
- Create a parking lot – Have you ever had one thing lead to another and suddenly you’re down a rabbit trail? A “parking lot” is a list of things that come up that need your attention when you’re done with your higher priority items. Rather than exploring the rabbit trail right in the middle of what you’re doing, identify and save it for later.
- Say “no” – If new opportunities attempt to steal your focus and the new item is not a higher priority, respectfully say “no.”
- Ask for help – Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed, you need assistance. Ask a family member, friend, or colleague to share the load.
- Get up ½ hour earlier – You’d be amazed how much productivity can occur in that quiet ½ hour before the rest of your family gets up. If you have a long list, consider giving yourself a ½ hour head start to your day.
- Pray – Last but certainly not least, pray. God can give you His peace that passes all understanding. He’ll give you strength for the storm or may calm the waves that threaten you.
What about you, what do you do when you’re overwhelmed to get back on track? Do you think you’ll try one of these tips the next time you’re overwhelmed? I’d love to hear from you!