Paralysed by overwhelm?

Isn’t it frustrating when you intend to start the week fresh, but one hour into the day you already experience this feeling of not knowing what to focus on? There are lots of topics going through your mind and your to do list is endless. Instead of getting anything done, you start to freeze and grab a treat to give yourself comfort. By the end of the day, you feel like yet another precious day has passed without you having accomplished anything. 

Experiencing overwhelm is like being at a very noisy concert where lots of bands play simultaneously. It’s difficult to listen to one piece of music as all the noises compete with each other and want your attention. Instead of focusing on one thing and feeling fulfilled by it, you consume it all and nothing. It feels like you have been drained of all your energy. 

Being a working mum, overwhelm is something I experience on a regular basis. These days, I know how to spot it when I’m at my limits. I get physical symptoms of feeling strangled. My breath is short and my heart races. I feel stressed, as if I’m going to explode. 

Below are my top tips from escaping overwhelm and getting stuff done. 

Grouping tasks into themes

When your plate is full of to do’s, it may prove useful to take a broader view and group the many tasks into themes. As an example, your to do list may include ‘write a blog post’, ‘ask client for review’ and ‘contact 2 people for networking’. The theme including all three to do’s would be ‘business development’. This more focused, contextual view helps to get you away from the big, muddled up list of tasks and instead offers a manageable number of topics you need to dedicate time to. 

Timeboxing

Blocking off time in the diary and dedicating it to one theme only has worked wonders for me. When you get a block of 2 hours, pick a theme and hone back into the individual tasks, selecting one that is achievable within the given timeframe. Focus on that, only on that, and shut everything else off (see top tip below).

Shutting off noise

How many times have you found yourself intending to get something specific done, an email came in and your attention was hijacked? When I block out time to work on a theme, I literally put noise cancelling headphones with no music on, I switch off my emails and have my phone on sleep mode. These little measures give less room for distraction and allow me to focus on the task. 9 out of 10 times, I finish a block of time with a sense of achievement.

If this article has landed with you and you recognise the situation only too well, direct message me to have a conversation. I help busy people in their 30’s to prioritise, gain clarity and move forwards. 

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