Dealing with Overwhelm When There’s So Much to Do

We have just one month left in 2016.

How have you fared in meeting your big goals, keeping resolutions and achieving milestones – while getting enough sleep, maintaining your health and loving life?

Chances are, if you’re like me or any other human being, you’ve had hits and misses. This is totally normal. And yet you can still feel like a failure when you’re not getting things done, especially the ones that are important and meaningful to you.

Our perfectionist attitude, competitiveness, and obsession with results – when left unchecked – can cut down our ability to deal with overwhelm.

Yesterday I woke up dreading all the projects and tasks I set out to complete in the next one to two weeks. I was overwhelmed by a long list of to-dos that all seemed nonnegotiable.

Instead of allowing anxiety to ruin my day, I began my morning with 30 minutes of yoga and meditation. Instead of checking social media and going through emails, I chipped away at a top-priority project and delivered the results to a client within a few hours. Instead of canceling my meetup, I went out to a Thai restaurant and shared a spicy meal and engaging conversation with a dear friend. And I enjoyed my evening with my husband and toddler daughter.

Then after dealing with frustration caused by my 3-year old struggling to fall asleep and repeatedly waking up and walking into my home office, I finally found a solution to facilitate bedtime. It involved a concession that we could both live with, at least temporarily.

I ended up with far less time than I had hoped for to complete another task for another client. But in the end, I had a purposeful and productive day.

As part of my nighttime ritual, I reflected on what I had done and what I had accomplished that day. Had I taken care of at least two top priorities? Check. Had I experienced moments of gratitude? Check. Had I dealt with challenges as they arose? Check.

Were there important things that didn’t get done? Check. Were there moments of self-absorption? Check. Were there situations that completely overwhelmed me? Check.

There are still many days left to make up for these shortcomings and to face more of them.

When you’re being pulled in different directions, choose one thing deliberately. You have no choice but to focus and get back to the rest later.

Ask for a deadline extension. Get help. Drop or delay the less important stuff. Hire a personal assistant.

Just know that – as this year comes to a close and a new one is set to begin (again and again) – you’re not a failure when you can’t and don’t do it all.

Dyan Williams
Productivity & Purpose Coach


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Photo by: Dave Austria