September hit me like a Mack truck.
You see, this organized, super structured girl went rogue for the summer. I didn’t plan my days, weeks, or months out in advance. In fact, I barely looked at a calendar. It was glorious.
In those carefree, unscheduled days of summer, it felt like I had time in abundance. So I kept saying yes to people and opportunities as they arose.
“Sure I can do that project, take that class, be on that book launch team (and that one, and that one), and attend that retreat (and that retreat too!).”
Only when I sat down to fill out my September calendar, did I realize the trouble I got myself into. I was overbooked and somehow, already behind.
Situations like this used to make me want to hide in bed and cry for a while. (I don’t handle overwhelmed well.) But since that isn’t a helpful response, I’ve learned a better way to move out of overwhelm into a place of peace.
6 Steps to Overcome Overwhelm
1. Do a brain dump.
Start by getting all your thoughts down on paper. I like to organize my brain dumps either by mind-mapping or using lists. (Because I am 100% Type A.) I make categories like events, weekly tasks, daily tasks, projects, and people to contact, then organize my thoughts accordingly.
For all my Type B people out there, don’t worry, your brain dump doesn’t have to look like mine. A messy list works just as well!
The key is to capture all your to-dos in whatever way works for you.
2. Put first things first.
Look at your brain dump and put a little star by the non-negotiables. My non-negotiables include daily quiet time with God, special “mommy-daughter time,” special “husband and wife time,” and writing time.
You may also want to mark appointments, events, or other things you’ve already committed yourself to.
3. Pull out a calendar and fill in your time.
Start with blocking off time for events and appointments. Next, schedule your daily and weekly tasks. And by schedule, I mean assign each task a day and time. You don’t actually need to do these tasks at the set time each day (unless that helps you), but you need to gain a realistic picture of how you are spending your limited hours each day.
Finally, look over your projects and create blocks of time just for those items.
If you still have a lot of white space on your calendar and want to fill it up, go back to your brain dump and find a few more tasks to add.
*Caution: Don’t fill up your calendar completely! You want to leave room for last minutes events, amazing opportunities, and for life to not go as planned.
4. Plan specifics.
Ask yourself, what else do I need to accomplish my tasks? For me, this looked like finding a Bible ready plan for my quiet time, searching Pinterest for toddler activities to do with my daughter, and brainstormed writing prompts.
Here is a good place to map out projects as well. Take time to break each project down into smaller steps.
You can either assign the specifics to a certain day or create an “idea bank” to refer to when needed.
5. Follow your plan.
Review your plan regularly (i.e. look at it every day!) and actually follow it. This one should go without saying, but it’s where most of us get tripped up.
Keeping your plan in front of you helps you stay focused on your priorities and confident that you are using your time well. If you want to overcome overwhelm, you need to stick to your plan!
6. Change your plan as needed.
I know, I just said, “stick to your plan!” But the reality is, life is unexpected and sometimes things don’t work out the way we thought they would. Or sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t live out very well.
New tasks and opportunities will always pop up, but we don’t need to let them completely derail us. Go back to your priorities and make adjustments, then keep moving forward.
Now you may be wondering what to do with all the other tasks from your brain dump session. You know, the ones that didn’t make the cut to be on your calendar. Here’s my advice, cross them off and forget about them (or just throw the paper away).
If you just gasped in horror, I know how you feel. But trust me, it will be okay.
We simply don’t have enough time to do it all. So, all we can do is prioritize what is best and let go of the rest. I love what Matt Perman says in his book What’s Best Next: “more important than how much we get done and how fast we do it is whether we are getting the right things done at all.” Overwhelm turns to peace when you make a plan and know the most important things will get done.
If you are a blogger, then feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do it all is a common occurrence. To help you through these steps, I’ve created the Overwhelmed to at Peace with a Plan printable workbook. Download yours today by clicking the image below.