How to Cope when You’re Overwhelmed with Too Much to Do

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Too Much To Do

What do you do when you have too much to do?

I literally ALWAYS have too much to do. There’s so many things and so few of ME.

In fact, much of my “zenness”comes from the fact that I’ve just accepted that I will always have more to do than I have time to do… at least for now.

It’s in my nature to “do.” I always have projects, goals, ambitions, dreams or even just regular tasks to accomplish. Life is way to full of juicy opportunity and new experiences for me to be okay with idleness. I don’t WANT to be idle.

BUT — and it’s a big but — Sometimes all my “do” puts me in a weird cycle of paralysis. You know the one; that feeling of I have a million things to conquer, but now that I’m sitting here as the conqueror, I literally can’t start. I can’t find my foothold. I can’t “do” anything except watch YouTube videos.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what to do when I have too much to do. And I totally and fully admit that I still get stuck in that vortex of paralysis sometimes.

About thirty seconds on Google made it really obvious that I am not the only one with this issue, so today I decided to share a few things I do when I have too much to do.

Beating Overwhelm


— Prayer. When I’m overwhelmed, my faith plays a major role in my “recovery” process.

1) I look for things I can delegate. When I take a survey of my overwhelming list, I almost always have a few things that I can delegate to someone else. It doesn’t matter what it is either. It could be that pile of laundry, the dishes, running to the post office, checking or sending emails, doing research… anything. Use an objective eye as you review your barrage of tasks. Delegation is hard for me sometimes, because I may or may not have a few control issues, but I digress.

“Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.”

Delegating a few tasks to someone else, or several someones, is a great way to take action without actually TAKING ACTION. It’s an EXCELLENT jumping off point when you’re suffering from paralysis, because you’re doing something without doing anything. It creates a smooth psychological transition from idleness to activity and, most of the time, it’s just the kick I need to get the ball rolling on my list.

2) For me, there’s always about a hundred things on my list that matter – but don’t MATTER. Meaning, they matter, to me, to someone, or they need to be done at some point – but they aren’t urgent and they aren’t going to make an immediate impact. When I have too much on my plate, I start my process of whittling by big list down to smaller lists in order of priority. I can then further break them down by placing each micro-list into it’s appropriate “focus” spot. Which brings me to my next tip.

3) Set dedicated times for certain tasks. I’ve talked about my modified block scheduling process in a previous post, but I’ll mention it again here because it really is a MAJOR game changer in the get stuff done game. It’s made a huge difference in my life so I think it’s worth mentioning. When you set a dedicated time to tackle certain things, it makes it easier to manage distractions. And it also creates a sort of psychological fence that says “the only thing we do in this block is THIS thing.” When you have your fence up, your endless list gets whittled down to just one thing. You focus on just that one thing at that one time. Shut out the big picture, the piles, the stacks, the list, and instead focus on just ONE thing.

“Rest and motion, unrelieved and unchecked, are equally destructive.”

4) Take brain breaks. I take plenty of brain breaks when I have a lot to do. Mostly, it’s just sixty seconds of deep breaths with my eyes closed and my head back. Just long enough to rest my eyes and my brain, but not so long that it makes me sleepy. It keeps me from getting burnt out and it keeps me “fresh” when I’m working on something tedious or that requires a high level of creativity or brain power.

5) Finally, STOP. I have the tendency to go, go, go. But I actually get more done when I allow myself to STOP and get some rest, some family time and some genuine “me time.” I promise, all things you didn’t get to will still be there when you come back, after a great meal and a good night’s sleep.

And last but not least, don’t give up. You may STILL get stuck sometimes and that’s okay. Perfection is subjective — let yourself be okay with that.

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