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How to Conquer the Overwhelm When You Have Too Much To Do

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Do you ever have one of those days?

You know – when you have so much to do that you actually become paralyzed by the feeling of overwhelm.

Instead of getting things done – you end up doing nothing.

It's time to put an end to that.

If you are anything like me – you probably have a ton of random things on your to do list.

Life moves fast – which is a good thing.

But when you are juggling lots of balls, things start falling through the cracks.

This is a sign that it is time to step back, take stock, and figure out how best to use those 24 hours each day that you are given.

In my own little corner of the world this is what is happening:

  • I almost bought a house which would have meant a move was in our future – but instead we are going to remodel the kitchen which means lots of decisions and planning instead.
  • My kids activities are taking up much of my time
  • This blog is growing fast and I am enjoying it – but lots to do
  • I hosted a huge family gathering and have another coming up
  • Paperwork is piling up
  • and so on and so on and so on.

But you don't need to add my to do list to your already busy day.

What you want to do is take control of your own.

Use this strategy to pull it all together and methodically figure out what to do next.

Related Post: How to Get Organized – Focus on These 3 Core Areas

1. Make a List of Your Open Projects

Here's the gist – you can't get it done, if you don't know what it is.

So making a list is key.

First, let's define a project.

A project can be anything you have going on that goes beyond 1 task.

Paying bills is a project.

Planning Thanksgiving dinner or a holiday trip is a project.

Taking on a kitchen remodel (that's me!) is a project.

Cleaning out your car is a project.

You get the idea.

I used to think of projects as sort of a DIY thing – like when you decide to make something or do something out of the ordinary.

All the everyday stuff like cleaning, errands, and paperwork were all what I considered to be “everyday life”.

Big mistake.

If it has more than 1 task, it's a project.

If it takes more than a few minutes, it's a project.

So, make a list of all those things that you need to do that are weighing you down.

Related Post: Conquer Time Management and Master Your Life

Where to Make Your Project List

Don't overthink this.

You can use a fancy app or just plain pen and paper – just make sure you have easy access to it and that you will remember to check it often.

I prefer the old fashioned pen and paper method because I can hold it, feel it, look at it, and jot down a thought whenever it pops into my head.

Plus, I like using pretty notebooks (my favorite are the Petite Planners from Erin Condren), different color pens and planner stickers to draw attention to the most important things.

Time for a brain dump.

Take all those “Oh yeah, I have to do that …” ideas that are cluttering up your mind and get them out of your head and put them on paper (or virtual paper).

Just Create Your List – Nothing More

Remember, this step in conquering your overwhelm is just about creating a list of all the projects that you have going on in your life.

The to-do list will come next.

So, don't jump ahead – or guess what?

You will start to get overwhelmed all over again.

Have fun with it – and take your time writing everything down.

2. Prioritize Your Projects

Now that you have your list of open projects all listed out, your mind should feel a little lighter.

Am I right?

Now, don't make the mistake of stopping here.

Prioritize all those projects.

Simply number them in the order that they need to happen and assign a due date to the ones that are time sensitive.

If the project is not time sensitive – create a self imposed due date, so that you have a goal as to when you want to get it done.

Be sure to add the due dates to your LifePlanner or online calendar.

3. Create an Action Plan

Go through the project list that you created and identify 3 projects that you want or need to start working on right now.

Break each of these projects into smaller baby steps.

Figure out when you will do each of these small steps and add them to your calendar.

Now TAKE ACTION!

Make sure you stick to your schedule so that you will complete your project by it's deadline.

Simple, right?

It's All About Making Your Tasks Achievable

If you break your to do list down into bite sized pieces, then the big projects are not so overwhelming.

This process gives you more control over your time and at the end of each day you will have a solid sense of accomplishment.

Happy planning!

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Lisa Sicard

Sunday 12th of November 2017

Hi Neena, i got through this at least once a week. I always have a lot of projects from the blog and then there's the full time job. I recently had my son and granddaughter with us for 10 weeks so it's all gotten off track! I do find when I write lists of things to do down I get the more important stuff done and still have time for family and loved ones. Always remember deadlines are good to have but leave some leeway for things that almost always come up. For instance we lost power for several days due to a storm. Another time I got sick. You just never know. But being prepared with lists does help and they help me sleep better too Neena :) This one comes at a great tip of the year!

Neena Nandagopal

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

Hi Lisa,

There is nothing like family to throw a wrench in productivity.

But it is a good thing.

My biggest struggle with time management is choosing between doing more things for my family or working on my blog and business.

Lists definitely help. I just need to remember to look at them!

Mitch Mitchell

Sunday 12th of November 2017

I have moments when I feel overwhelm. You know what I do then... nothing! Of course that means more stress and overwhelm; it's an intriguing cycle. Luckily, when I have to get something done I get it done, but most of the time I like getting ahead of things so I can find some time to relax. Since I don't relax, you can imagine I'm not getting ahead all that often. lol

Neena Nandagopal

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

Hi Mitch,

You are too funny - and you sound exactly like me.

Procrastination is a muse, really.

And once I am able to break free - I wonder why I just didn't do whatever I was procrastinating on right away, in the first place.

Often the task is a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Hopefully you will get some relaxing in over the holiday season!

Richard

Friday 10th of November 2017

SO FUNNY YOU POSTED EXACTLY WHAT I WAS FEELING....OVERWHELMED!!! IT TAKES ME HOURS JUST TO GET THROUGH MY OUTLOOK EMAIL. MOST OF MY EMAILS ARE FROM COUPONING AND ALL TYPES OF SAVING ALERTS ON STUFF I REALLY DO NOT NEED, BUT FEEL I CAN'T PASS ON A GREAT DEAL. ALL THIS TAKES TONS OF TIME.

I HAVE RECENTLY SET UP A TO-DO EMAIL FOLDER RIGHT BELOW MY OUTLOOK 365 INBOX. I NOW MOVE ALL MY EMAILS THAT I CAN'T DO RIGHT NOW INTO MY "TO DO" FOLDER. I ALWAYS TRY TO HAVE AN EMPTY INBOX BY THE END OF EACH DAY. AFTER A FEW WEEKS A LOT OF THE "TODO" ITEMS ARE OUTDATED AND I SIMPLY DELETE MOST OF THEM. I FOUND BY CREATING THIS "TODO" LIST AND GETTING ALL EMAILS OUT OF MY INBOX EACH DAY THAT SOMEHOW MAKES ME FEEL I HAVE FEWER THINGS TO DO.

THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I SUBSCRIBED TO YOUR "TAKE BACK YOUR TIME" UPDATES. THANKS AGAIN FOR POSTING THIS IMPORTANT SUBJECT! I THINK IT HELPS TO SHARE WITH OTHERS HOW TO BETTER HANDLE YOUR TIME!

Neena Nandagopal

Friday 10th of November 2017

Hi Richard, Email can be a beast - you are right. It seems like you have a great system for dealing with all of the "unimportant" type emails. I also am on many retail lists - and I like getting the coupons, in case I happen to go shopping - but I certainly don't need them cluttering up my inbox. Since I use gmail - I have set up some filters to automatically move certain emails into a catch all folder. (this is the process that I use: https://almostpractical.com/create-filter-gmail/ ) However, it's been awhile since I have updated those filters, so it is time to add that to my list of projects. Have a great weekend!