Dealing with Overwhelm

You Try to Think In This Space.

Sometimes, I need a little more practice what I preach. I was working with a client and we were discussing how clutter in our physical space can lead to, or be the direct result of, clutter in our mental space. I came home from that appointment and threw my work bag on the chair in my home office. When I looked around quickly, I realized my office looked like a bomb went off.

See, I’ve just gotten back from a conference where I was motivated, inspired and generally reset. I arrived at home feeling like I could conquer the world…for about five minutes. Then I looked at all the stuff I’d need to unpack and organize and clean and I nearly passed out on my bed.

The result? Clutter, of both space and mind. The piles on my desk and chair and floor were a direct result of the overwhelmed mind I had. Where do I start? How do I make sure I get all the things finished that I set out to accomplish? How do I do it all and still maintain my household?

I’m going to take a little bit of my own coaching advice and do just what I talked about with my client. It is what has worked with me in the past.

1. Decide what I want and need to do and then list it all on one sheet. 

2. Ask for help. In my case, I took to my other blog to get advice on a neater office. 

3. Assign timetables and deadlines to each task on the list-not as a punitive measure, but to relieve myself of the sense that I have to get it all done right now. 

4. Create a system for handling everything in the meantime. (Where can I store “piles” so that they are not just clutter but instead a “to-do” area?)

5. Get to work. 

I’ll admit sometimes the fifth step is the hardest for me which is why I allow myself to wallow in overwhelm.  It has worked quite well in the past, when I don’t want to actually do anything and I can blame having too much to do. I’d trick myself into thinking someday when I was less overwhelmed, then I’d get to work tackling all those things I was pushing aside. That is my dirty little secret. And I won’t let it keep happening.

So today I start with my list and then break it into smaller chunks so that later today I can start crossing stuff off. Then I’ll discover what it’s like to not be overwhelmed.

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