Today’s Topic: How to deal with overwhelm
When Adulting starts getting to be a little too much with all the other stuff you got going on.
My personal example story:
A few months ago while jumping into my next quest on my adventure towards self employment I had way too much on my plate. I would commute over an hour to train the new me for four hours at the job I was leaving. Then I was off to my new job teaching kids graphic design. After that I went home ate dinner and got to work on freelance work until I went to bed.
Wash, rinse, repeat…
In the gaps and on weekends I tried to catch up on all the everyday adulting tasks that got put off while I spazed around all week. It was not sustainable, but I knew it was temporary. I scaled back to the necessities and hunkered down to get through it.
Every so often periods of overwhelm jump into my adulting life and if I have a strategy of dealing with it, riding it out is so much more manageable. Today’s activity is for working through those exact times in life, be it a job transition, finals week, or something suddenly being dropped on your plate out of the blue.
Since there is a lot already going on we are going to start things off with the fun activity section of the worksheet.
Connect the dots! Just like when you were a kid!
Okay, but what does this have to do with overwhelm?
Take another look at the connect the dots activity.
Imagine each of those dots is something you have going on. Each one is a task or thing on your mind right now. Looks pretty similar right? A jumbled mess of of things to do.
So how do you do a connect the dots/deal with everything on your plate?
One dot at a time!
You focus on connecting one dot to the next. Finishing the current task before moving on to another. If you jump ahead or skip something there is a good chance of messing something up. You might not get the planned end result. So take things one dot (task) at a time and you will get through it.
To make this connect the dots a little more difficult and fun there are sections of colors. Do one color one dot at a time following where the color leads. When you are done with that color move onto another color.
How to do the rest of the worksheet:
Now apply this concept to your crazy overwhelming life. For the sake of your sanity (and mine) I have this focused down into 3 steps. It should take you about 10-15 minutes to complete so set aside some time for this one. Getting organized is never wasted time.
Step 1: Brain Dump
I want you to flip this worksheet over (or use a blank page) and set a timer for 5 min. Now list everything that you have on your plate at the moment.
It doesn’t matter what order it is in, or how important the task, just write everything you can in 5 minutes.
Step 2: Prioritize
Okay now take a look at that huge list. Was it as bad as you thought?
Now go through each item and decide if they are an STAR, ARROW or X Task.
STAR = OMG IF I DON’T DO THIS RIGHT NOW THE WORLD WILL END
Examples: I need to pee, Finish project that pays my bills, REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS
basically if you put it off until tomorrow it will be REALLY REALLY BAD
ARROW = I can do this tomorrow and everything will be fine
Examples: Sending that email, cleaning the bathroom, going out with friends, do dishes
X = Purge!
Examples: Check facebook, shop for outfit for next week, hobby projects, catch up on some netflix
Just cross off these items, you don’t need to do them. If it makes you feel better you can put them on a list somewhere else if you would really like to do them later.
Now look at all your Stars and pick your top 3 and write them in order on the front of the worksheet in the list section with 1, 2, 3.
Step 3: Do one thing at a time
FOCUS! One dot at a time. Remember? Do not even think about anything else. Clear all distractions and focus on that number one thing until it is done or you absolutely have to stop what you are doing.
To make this super easy on yourself you can start working on this task by breaking it down into bite sized chunks in the list area below your top 3.
For example if my number 1 task was to Do Laundry because I am completely out of clean underwear, then my breakdown list would look like this:
1. Put all my dirty clothes in the hamper
2. Take Hamper Upstairs
3. Put clothes in washing machine
4. Put soap in washing machine
5. Press start button
6. Dance party
7. Take out stuff that can’t go in dryer & hang up
8. Throw rest of clothes in dryer
9. Put in dryer sheet
10. Press Start
11. Dance party
12. Put dry clothes in laundry basket
13. Fold clothes while watching Netflix
14. Put Folded clothes away
See there is a lot more to it then “Do Laundry”
“Put all my dirty clothes in hamper” seems a lot easier to get started on then “Do Laundry” even though both tasks start the same way.
For more about why you should break down your tasks read about it here: Get lost on his website for your own sake.
Yes I know all this seems easier said then done, but there is a peace of mind that comes with having a set plan.
I do a larger version of this towards the end of each month to organize everything for the following month.
After I do the brain dump I schedule all the star and arrow tasks in my planner.
If I notice a task has been on my to do list for a long time it is usually because I need to break it down in to smaller less scary tasks. Once I do that I always at least get started on them.
What are your top 3 to do list items? Post them in the comments and let our little adulting world know what you are getting done today!