Getting Overwhelmed? Here’s How to Stop

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "You Are A Badass" by Jen Sincero. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you find yourself getting overwhelmed by a massive to-do list both in your personal life and your work life? Do you want tips on how to overcome roadblocks and be more productive?

There are three common complaints behind getting overwhelmed: there’s not enough time, there’s too much to do, and you’re too tired. This guide will help you work through these roadblocks and improve your mindset.

Continue reading to learn how you can take steps to prevent getting overwhelmed in your daily life.

Stop Getting Overwhelmed

Sometimes a massive to-do list can cause panic, leaving us completely overwhelmed, wondering how we’re going to do it all. This drama we create when we’re getting overwhelmed can be fixed by a simple shift in perception. Rather than completely freaking out about all we have on our plates, we can instead see our opportunities and responsibilities as blessings.

There are three common complaints behind getting overwhelmed; we can shift our perception of them and get a more pleasant perspective on our huge to-do lists:

  • There’s not enough hours in the day.
  • There’s too much to do.
  • I’m exhausted.

There’s Not Enough Hours in the Day

Time, like the rest of reality, is in your mind. You can make it work for you instead of being its slave. For example, you may think you don’t have time to find a proper parking space, so you park in the red zone. But this can lead to three hours wasted getting your car out of a tow garage. You may think you don’t have time to clean your office. But this can lead to wasting half an hour searching for your phone under piles of junk.

There are some key strategies to help you start handling your time better:

Show time some respect. If you’re constantly late, you’re sending a message to The Universe that you don’t value time. If you constantly flake, get it together and stop. Set reminders on your smartphone. This will help you create more time in your own life and you can stop being someone who wastes everyone else’s time.

Identify your favorite time-wasters. What do you find yourself doing when you’re supposed to be doing something else? Facebook? Eating? When you know what your time-wasters are, you can guard against them, turning the internet off, or making the kitchen off limits.

Break down a task into bite-sized pieces. A giant task can be deflating, leaving you wondering how you’ll ever get it all done. But when you break it down into smaller pieces, it seems doable. For example, if you see a messy house and are getting overwhelmed by the cataclysmic disarray, break it down and focus on one room at a time. By looking at each task separately, it all seems more manageable.

This idea of breaking things down works for time, too. For example, if you are building a website, rather than dedicating a whole day to the job, work in hour-long chunks where you can’t eat, walk around, or check texts. Once the hour is up you can take a break and do whatever you want.

I Have Too Much to Do

When you’re getting overwhelmed by your to-do list, thinking you have way too much to do and not enough hours in the day, try these strategies:

Stop talking about how busy you are. Instead of feeling weighed down by all you have to do, focus on what you enjoy about what you do. Understand you have a life full of interesting projects and communicate that to the world and yourself.

Get help. An outside perspective can help direct us where to go next or what to do next when we’re confused. Make sure you seek this advice from someone who knows what they’re doing. Think about hiring a business coach or clutter consultant, or talk to a trusted friend.

Prioritize and delegate. We often think we have to handle it all, or that the world will fall apart if we don’t do everything. So ask yourself, why am I doing all this? Is it all absolutely necessary? Does it have to all be done now? Just like breaking down your time into small chunks, you can break down your to-do this into small chunks. Put what has to happen now and what can wait into two separate lists, the Now list and the Wait list. Then look at the Now list and figure out the most important tasks. Try to delegate the less-important tasks or save them for off hours.

Speaking of delegating, trying to do it all yourself is a recipe for disaster. Help is all around us; sometimes receiving it is just about looking at the situation differently. Have your partner help with the laundry. Have your teen clean out the garage. Find the money to hire help. 

Put your own priorities first. Other people’s needs can grab too much of your time and attention. Don’t answer calls or texts while you’re busy; accomplish your own tasks first before helping anyone else.

I’m Exhausted and Getting Overwhelmed

Sometimes we live in the mindset that taking time off will cause your entire life to collapse around you. This is arrogant and unhealthy. If you don’t take time off from work, your body will betray you with illness. 

It’s also important to make time to do the things that inspire you; enjoying life is a priority. Designing a more fun-filled existence lets you enjoy this life while you still have it.

Getting Overwhelmed? Here’s How to Stop

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Here's what you'll find in our full You Are A Badass summary :

  • How to go from wanting to change your life to deciding to do it
  • How to stop your self-sabotaging thoughts
  • How to tap into Source Energy for mental and spiritual strength

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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