Those times we feel scatter brained, short tempered, rushed, and overwhelmed. Familiar? I wish I could say it happens seldom but now days it seems we fall into this mode with every changing season. Back to school and activities, holidays, finishing the school year and sliding right into the craziness of summer. We could tell ourselves it will be better at some point, but really one crazy just turns into another crazy. Right?
Nobody likes all those feelings. It seems we fall into three categories: those who just feel like they drown every time a new season starts, those who seem to handle the changes well, and those who look forward to each change. If your part of the first group and your brain goes into overwhelm mode and its all you can do make it through a day, I feel that pain. Its a horrible feeling that makes you want to shut down and shut everything else out. Since most of the time that’s not an option, I’m here to help. I got rather sick of that feeling so I figured out what worked for me currently and maybe they can be of service.
Start by figuring out priorities. You may laugh to yourself and think, “I know what my priorities are, this is worthless.” Well, do you? I find any time I get in that overwhelm mode, I’ve fallen off track of what my priorities need to be and I need to refocus. Each season seems to come with recalibrated priorities. Meaning, some will stay the same, others will go on the back burner to be revisited. I used to tell myself I always had my priorities straight but nothing I did supported that. Most of the time, we find ourselves juggling too many plates because we have to be “super person” and everything is a priority.
I’ve been taking a quote to heart every time I feel like this. “When you try to do everything great, you do nothing great. Everything may seem like a priority but some things need to take higher priority. Spinning too many plates means your attention is divided too many ways and they all fall, instead of spinning a few plates very well.
How to fix:
What is your number one priority?
Like if all else was failing what is the first thing you need to take care of? Yourself, family, something else? I’d encourage you think on this for a minute. Consider that everything you take care of and do doesn’t happen well if you don’t function well. Easier said than done, yes. But make sure your number one priority lines up with how you want everything else in life to flow.
What is you number two priority
Depending on the season of life, this might be kids, other family members, career. This should be something pretty drastic like it needs to get done even if the world shuts down.
What is your number three priority.
Depending on who you are the third priority could swing a lot of ways. Some might say it would still be family, or career. Some might say staying connected to people, or continuing education.
Either way, your top 3 priorities should leave room for little negotiation. By that, I mean if someone throws a plan in your face or a curve ball to do something else, you should hesitate to change your plans if they consist of one of those priorities. If you know where your attention needs to be, you won’t feel as bad saying “no” to something because your have those priorities in line.
Now comes the hard part, decreasing some of the commitments. We as people have come to thrive on be busy. It almost becomes a competition of who is busier and has less time. Even though we don’t really want or need to do any of them. Remember the plates scenario and how its easier to focus on a few things well rather than many things a little. They are no longer done well and they start to fall.
Take inventory of everything you have going on with family, work, personal, social, etc. Make sure all of those things are things you either need to do or enjoy doing. Otherwise, consider dropping those activities. Its ok to leave an organization if you cannot give it the attention it needs. People come and go from different places. When you take things off your plate, you can start to give the time and attention to the things that need it.
I’m a huge fan of writing and the visual it gives. Take a couple minutes and make a list of all the things you have going on and start to knock out the things that can be removed and move things up and down on the list based on what it should currently be. Your brain should start to relax and you can be present in the moment where you are instead of physically being everywhere but mentally being nowhere.
Get yourself out of survival mode and back to functioning mode.