How To Beat Overwhelm And Take Action
I’ve always been in favor of taking action. But there are days when I just wake up all fuzzy in my head. Over time, I’ve realized that this happens for either of the two reasons:
- I don’t have a clear picture of what I want to accomplish in the day
- I know what I need to do, but I feel overwhelmed by the thought of it all
The first problem is easy to address. You just need to plan out your day. For me, following a simple rule of planning the next day before going to bed helps.
However, beating the feeling of overwhelm to get the work done still poses a challenge sometimes. As work-from-home has become the new norm, the line between work life and personal life got more blurred than ever before. It’s now the biggest challenge to actually get your mind to stop thinking about the dozens of things that need to be done and focus on actually taking the action. For those who manage household chores and also work from home, the challenge is even bigger. And don’t even let me get started about people who work from home with kids!
Here’s a short guide that summarizes how I ground myself every time I feel overwhelmed.
Fix daily actions to pick momentum
Most people like to plan out their day by tasks. But the problem with that is, we sometimes don’t want to do that first thing written on our task list. We look at that and we feel bored, tired, anxious, and a dozen other things that make us procrastinate. Instead of doing that thing that needs to be done, we end up doing a million other tasks or nothing at all. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a few fixed daily actions that you do no matter what. For instance, if you’re a writer, you can make a routine out of writing at least 800–1000 words every morning. No matter what, you show up at your desk and write those words. If you make it into a habit, you’ll have accomplished a task without even thinking about it. And that accomplishment will empower you to take on other complex tasks for the day. It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be anything that makes you feel like you have control of the day and you’re ready!
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” — John C Maxwell
Eat the frog
Successful people launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t some innate talent that only a few possess. You can actually build a positive addiction — you start loving the feeling that comes with accomplishing a hard task so much that you start organizing your life and your thoughts to make it happen! Did you know that you can actually train your mind and form a habit of doing things that seem hard first? The concept ‘Eat The Frog’ by Brian Tracy means that even if you have a million tasks at hand that overwhelm you, pick the biggest and the hardest one. And just do that ONE task. Over time, you form a habit of doing this every single day. If you plan your tasks in a bullet journal, you can make a unique bullet journal key where you make a frog icon next to the most important task of each day.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”— Mark Twain
Notice where your time goes
The most common thought that comes to our mind when we look at our to-do list is — there’s not enough time to get all of this done! In fact, one big reason for feeling overwhelmed is constantly feeling out of time. It’s funny how much time we lose simply because we’ve don’t keep a track of where it goes. A Work-Life Balance statistics report stated that — Workers average just 2 hours 48 minutes of productive device time in a day. This might be because the knowledge workers were found to check email and Slack every 6 minutes. When I started fixing time for everything I wanted to do, a practice popular by the name Time Blocking, I realized that I had enough time to do everything I wanted to in a day. Time blocking is a time management technique that requires dividing your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks. This practice helps me completely get rid of the overwhelm and the consequent feeling of laziness. The time of the day told my head and my body what I had to do and I just got on with it.
“If a goal is worth having, it’s worth blocking out the time in your day-to-day life to achieve it.”— Jill Koenig
Take time to unwind
Sometimes, you might feel so overwhelmed and anxious that the above-mentioned tips feel difficult to follow through. Rules, routines, and rituals are great to help us stay disciplined but there are times when nothing seems to work. At that time, trust yourself and allow your mind as well as body to take a break. It helps to have a creative hobby that lets you get into a state of flow and forget about everything else for some time. For me, it helps to pick up my journal and create some doodles or use my lettering skills to create different types of bullet journal fonts. Find an outlet for your stress. It can be something as simple as a quick workout session, cooking or baking spree, some time spent gardening or painting flower pots, or writing in your journal. Experiment with different activities to find out what works for you.
“Finding ways to unwind and switch off is just as important as working very hard.” — Francesca Hayward
Once you’re able to ground yourself through these activities, you can get back to the above-mentioned strategies to get back at your most important tasks at hand.
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