Last week I could physically feel overwhelm creeping in, as I looked at my to-do list and wondered, "How on earth am I going to get it all done?”
Feeling run down, exhausted and like everything is a bit too much is actually quite frightening. It was hard making decisions. It took forever to write simple emails. My mind went into overdrive, the noise and chatter waking me up at night. Was I was cut out for running my own business, should I get a job instead? What if nobody comes to my next workshop? What if it goes wrong? What if my business fails? What then? How was I going to pay my bills? I simply couldn’t see how things could work or a way out.
I decided to take a few days away from work and get some rest. When I got back to my desk I used some simple tactics that helped me get out of the overwhelm pit of doom, and and in case you’re struggling with the same thing, I thought I’d share the ones that worked the best:
Remember this quote
Write down this quote and post it up on your fridge: “NOTE TO SELF: I don’t have to take this day all at once, but rather, one step, one breath, one moment at a time. I am only one person. Things will get done when they get done.”
Often the overwhelm is when you are carrying all those tasks, projects, thoughts and ideas in your head. The quickest and easiest way to declutter your brain is to take 15 minutes to offload everything onto a blank piece of paper. Write it all down. Now try to relax and let go of the stress surrounding these tasks knowing that you have captured everything you need to do, and will get to them when you are ready.
Limit your tasks to 3 MITS a day
One of the best tips that I’ve found transformational in my own life and work is to decide on my MITs – my Most Important Tasks – for the day. The key here is to limit yourself to 3 tasks or to-dos and to write them down the night before. Having your 3 MITs means you are less likely to procrastinate and more motivated to get cracking through your list and feel good at the end of the day.
When you are overwhelmed, sometimes it feels impossible to start anything because all the tasks seem too big. One of my favourite weapons against overwhelm is the Pomodoro Technique. Pick a task and focus exclusively on that one task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Check out this TomatoTimer tool.
Change your environment
Have you been sat in the same place for four hours achieving very little? Go somewhere else. A coffee shop, for a walk, to another part of the building - just change the air around you and you’ll change how you feel about the things you have got on your plate and the best way of tackling each one.
Share the overwhelm
Sometimes it is helpful simply to ‘share’ the overwhelm you are feeling. Talk to your partner, a friend or trusted colleague. Offload your overwhelm feelings and you will feel more in control and better able to cope.
A report from last month shows that each year 300,000 people in the UK lost their jobs due to mental health issues, proof that we all need to get better at taking small steps to look after our minds as well as our bodies. Start by stopping and looking at what’s really getting on top of you. Do you need to put one of the tips above into practice? Or do you actually just need to take some time out, let your mind rest and prioritise yourself? Whatever the answer know that it’s ok, sometimes you’re better off putting off till tomorrow what you could do today. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Melanie Fieseler is Director at Work Happy Mums, the go-to resource for return-to-work professional women and career advancers. At Work Happy Mums we're building a better future for working mothers and the organisations they work for. Join our community and help both our families and businesses thrive.