Are you overwhelmed by your mess?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Does it stop you from doing anything? The answer for me is yes to both questions. I regularly feel overwhelmed. Below find six ways to overcome that overwhelmed feeling.

You can see from the picture above that one of the major reasons I feel overwhelmed is that I have a lot of things I want to do that don’t ever seem to get done. This is a picture of my card table/desk extension where I dump everything that has come up during the day or week and that I need to review, read, sort or take action on. In the background, you can see a twin bed covered in supplies and parts that stare at me yelling “sort me” and have been doing that since covid first struct. And if you could see my computer files that have been saved over the past decades you would flinch. So what are the major things that cause me overwhelm?

Contributions to overwhelm

  1. Things that are left undone because they seem so massive that I don’t know where to start. These are like the knot in your shoe lace that you can’t untie. It just remains no matter how you tug at it.
  2. My ongoing desire to explore and learn new ideas from others. Also known as the shiny dime syndrome. When a new application comes out that might help my overwhelm I fell like I must try it, which only adds to the overwhelm because there is a learning curve and each has it’s own ideosynchracies.
  3. Email and newsletters, books, and articles. If I see something that looks interesting then I want to save it or print it off and read it- hence my piles on the desk extension.
  4. Requests from others. My purpose in life is to help others so how can I turn them down. There is always too many things that people need help with and I find it hard to say no.
  5. Things I want to do. I want to travel and see new places and be exposed to new people and cultures. Covid, time and money are obstacles I have to overcome.

Six ways of Beating my overwhelm

Beating my overwhelm is an ongoing battle. Here are six things I do to reduce my overwhelm and win the battle

  1. Recognize the feeling is real and only a feeling. When I get the feeling I stop and do a breathing meditation to calm my mind and Identify the next thing I want to do. Because doing is always about one thing at a time. It has been proven that we cannot effectively multitask.
  2. Use digital applications to keep track of my list of things I need to do and put them out of my mind so the long list does not overwhelm me all the time.
  3. Recognize that big tasks like clearing the bed and my card table won’t be solved in one sitting and allocate 10 minutes a day to each. So I break down my overwhelming tasks into bite sized chunks I can easily do and before you know it the overwhelming task is done. Pick a small amount of time that you can allocate and work on a piece of the big tasks in small chunks of time.
  4. Learn to say no to the requests of others and especially yourself. Quit adding to the problem. You have to take charge and rule your life. If you are doing too much, saving too much or being the goto person when no one else wants to do it than stop and let others do some things.
  5. Use your computer to build your personal organization system to save information and help manage your tasks so you don’t have to think about them all the time. Identify specific times that you look at your list of tasks and choose the 3-6 you are going to do the next day.
  6. Take time for yourself every day to reflect on what is working and what you need to change to make things flow more smoothly.

To summarize these six ways above into simpler ideas you need :

  1. A system, either digital or on paper, to store information that you can retrieve when you need it; a method for keeping track of goals, projects, and tasks that you have to do; and a set of processes for reviewing the information so you don’t forget anything or loose it.

    I use a digital system based on ROAM Research. Others use other note taking systems such as Notion, which I use for some things, or Evernote. Here are some of the other applications I use:
    a. Instapaper – saves articles for reading later, not always a good thing.
    b. Readwise- Moves highlights from articles, books,, and emails automatically into my Roam application for storage and retrieval
    c. Kindle to read and highlight books. The highlights automatically flow to readwise and then to Roam.
  2. Daily and weekly processes for reviewing my task list, project list, and goals to make sure I am doing the right things at the right times.
  3. Down time for meditation, reflection, and sleep to recharge my batteries. I am good but I need to replenish my energy supply each day.