If you’ve been reading for a while, it’s no secret that my days are very, very full. I never say that to make myself feel important; its just the truth. First and foremost I’m a mom to three little boys (for anyone new here, that’s an almost 4-year old and twin 1-year-olds), I work full-time in Manhattan, I own Bella Carta and I sit on the board for my oldest son’s preschool. I’m also a wife, a daughter, a friend, a neighbor… I try to be really intentional and invested in the things that bring me joy, and I’m guilty of saying yes to anyone who asks if I can help. Quite honestly, I don't think I'm any busier than anyone else: we all have big responsibilities, big dream and goals, and the same amount of hours in a day.
That said, I am also human, and some days I wake up with that crippling sense of feeling overwhelmed; that I can’t possibly complete everything I’m expected to do. Those days always seem to happen when I’m running on consecutive nights of too little sleep and too much coffee, but they happen. I thought I’d share with you all the five things I do when I’m feeling like that, because once I do them, I instantly feel better. These steps don’t always take anything off my plate, but they help readjust my perspective and make me see my responsibilities in a new light.
1. Clean Out Your Wallet
You don’t actually have you clean your wallet, but find something small and manageable that you can clean quickly (in less than 10 minutes). For me, I always reach for my wallet. It’s always a mess, and organizing something makes me feel like I have things under control. So it could be your desktop, your planner, your purse – anything. Spend 10 minutes cleaning it up, and then move onto something else.
2. Brain Dump
I’m type-A (also, a Virgo) through & through. Most times its beneficial – I’m organized and diligent… but sometimes it can also be a complete hindrance to being productive. This may sound crazy to other non type-A’s out there, but I have trouble writing a to-do list if I don’t know how best to organize it. I know, it’s crazy – but it’s true. So on days when I need to get stuff out of my head and on to paper, I give myself permission to brain dump. Just start writing. Anything making me stressed, anxious, worried – it all gets written down. Then later I go back to prioritize and categorize, but just writing everything down as it comes to my head is so freeing.
3. Make a cup of Coffee
Or tea, or wine – whatever it is that makes you feel like you can tackle something, do it. Even if it’s going for a walk or taking a shower, the world will not end in 10 or 15 minutes. At night, after the kids are in bed and I’m feeling overwhelmed about the amount of work still ahead of me, I go and make a big cup of coffee and light a candle, and it instantly puts me in a better mood. So whatever it is that helps gives you the energy, or calm, to tackle your to-do list, go do it.
4. Delegate or Prioritize
I know I’m not the only one guilty of this, but a lot of the overwhelm I feel is my own fault. I give myself unrealistic expectations, and then feel overwhelmed when I haven’t done them. The twins’ first birthday was a perfect example – on my to-do list before the party, to update every photo in our gallery wall. Two days before the party, I was a complete wreck that I still had to do it. So you know what I did? I decided not to do it. Taking that one thing off my plate made a world of difference, and I was the only one who made myself stressed to begin with. So hand off a few items to family or friends, ask for help, or decide that certain items can just be put on the back burner until you have more time. Something that always gets pushed to the end of my list is putting laundry away. Ask my husband, we LIVE out of baskets until he (or I) can’t take it anymore!
5. Just Start
I am sometimes my own worst enemy. I could sit and stress about my to-do list and worry about how I’m going to get it all done, or I could just do it. Start with the easiest thing – just get one thing crossed off, and keep moving forward. You’ll be surprised how much you actually get done when you stop stressing about it, and actually start doing it.
I hope some of you reading will benefit from using one or two of these tips on those days that seem too overwhelming, or at the very least knowing that you're not alone in feeling that some days there's just too much on your plate!