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Are you feeling overwhelmed? When you’re trying to keep up with a blog, grow a business, and run the household well, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly behind. There’s always something to be done.
But, you don’t want to live your life feeling overwhelmed. If you’re in a constant state of too much to do, you risk burning out. Or feeling so paralyzed by everything on your to-do list that you just do nothing.
These options don’t help the matter at all. In fact, they usually just add to the problem. If you’re overwhelmed now, ignoring everything will likely just make the matter worse.
So instead of sweeping your to-do list under the rug, here are eleven different strategies for you to try. They help me keep my head above water.
1. Take a Time Out
A short break can help clear your head. My favorite location for a quick time out is outside. The fresh air feels amazing and helps me feel more sane. Whenever that feeling of overwhelm strikes, I engage the kids in a safe activity and head outside for a few minutes.
It doesn’t take long, I typically walk out towards the barn and watch my crazy chickens run around for a few minutes. The change of scenery combined with the relative quiet of the outdoors does wonders for my outlook. I pray for guidance, which also helps tremendously.
The outdoor refreshes me. If it stresses you out, don’t do that. Instead, think of what helps you clear your head. Is it drinking a cup of tea? Or doing some stretches?
Whatever it is, do that for five or ten minutes. Then, head back to your to-do list, this time with a better frame of mind.
2. Write It ALL Down
Now that it’s time to get back to work, I brain dump. I write down everything. Everything that I feel needs done this day. My list might include:
- Cooking that still needs done
- Homeschool lessons
- Blog work (marketing, updating plugins, writing a post, creating new images, etc.)
- Client work
- Deep cleaning tasks
- Activities with the kids
My list always seems long. But, just getting it on paper helps me to feel better. Instead of just being a jumbled list of tasks taking up space in my brain, they’re now in list form. From a list, you can easily take action.
3. Delegate What You Can
Do YOU need to be the person to accomplish everything on your list?
So start looking for tasks you can delegate. You might:
- Have a child cook a simple meal
- Ask your spouse to take on some extra chores
- Arrange for your VA to do an extra task or two
Once you delegate a task, it’s no longer your responsibility. You can cross it off your list!
4. Pick Your Priorities
Take a look at your whittled down list. Some of those items are more important than the others.
When you prioritize your list, it’s important to think through worst case scenarios. What is the worst that can happen if you don’t get that particular task done today?
Here’s some insight into my brain when I’m working through this step:
- Homeschool lessons
Since we homeschool four days a week, I might decide to have my kids do their independent learning today. Then I’ll make up the extra lessons we missed on Friday.
Another option might be to have my husband do the lessons when he gets home from work, or after dinner.
There are lessons that need done daily (reading and math) and some that won’t be the end of the world if they don’t get done.
- Client Work
When is this assignment due? How much time will it realistically take? Are there any parts I could delegate to a VA or my teen?
If the deadline is TODAY, this has to be a priority. If not, I’ll see what I can flex in my schedule tomorrow to make room.
- Blogging tasks
Are there any posts in reserves I could use instead of writing a fresh one? Can I repurpose other content (like from my book or course?)
Can I skip the marketing? (The answer is usually yes to this one…)
Your Priorities Are Yours
Your priorities will be different than mine. What’s most essential to you might be different. That’s the beauty of writing your list down first – you get to pick what is most important to you.
Do what you and your family need, not what you think other people think you should do.
5. Rewrite Your List
Using your priorities, rewrite your to-do list. Focus on what’s absolutely essential. Anything else, leave off.
Sometimes just seeing a smaller list helps relieve your feeling of overwhelm so much.
6. Get Started
Planning can’t last forever. If you never get started, you’ll still be overwhelmed. I try to keep my planning stage to 30 minutes or less.
Then it’s time to start. Make sure your kids are busy doing something safe, and then get to work.
Working in short bursts really helps me when I’m feeling under pressure. So I pick a task (my top priority) and set a timer for 20 minutes. I sit down and work as much as I can in that period of time. It’s long enough to make progress, but short enough it’s not going to burn me out.
7. Break Time
- Take a potty break
- Go walk around the house
- Refill a water mug
- Eat a quick snack to boost your energy
- Connect with your kids and get them settled again with a new activity
- Start a playlist that’ll energize you
Keep your break short. You don’t want to do everything on the list above, or you won’t get your work done.
Then, decide if you’re going to move onto a new task or keep working on the same one. This really depends on how much you got done during your initial work period.
8. Repeat Steps 7 & 8
For the next several hours, keep working steps 7 and 8 on repeat. Get your kids engaged, set the timer, and then jump back to work.
By staying on track, and giving yourself plenty of breaks, it’s amazing how much you can accomplish in short bursts of time.
9. Use Natural Breaks to Reevaluate
There are several natural breaks in the day. These typically revolve around meals and at the start of quiet time.
Use this time to reevaluate. Reflect on your progress and see if anything is taking longer than you thought it would.
Decide if you need to rearrange your priorities, ask a client for an extension, or scrap something completely.
This will help you be proactive, no matter what you decide to do with your list. You are the one in control. You are not a victim of your to-do list.
10. Take a Deep Breath
You can’t get so worked up over your to-do list that you forget to breathe. Take a few minutes and breathe deeply.
I love my Fitbit Charge 2 for this. There’s a Relax setting that does some focused breathing for just a couple of minutes. It helps me to get back on track.
Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed, I use the two minute setting and do some breathing. It’s enough to calm a racing heart, and provide oxygen to help your brain chill.
You can do this – do not allow yourself to be paralyzed into inaction because you feel like you’re in over your head.
11. Stay Hydrated
Do you know how much dehydration affects your entire body? It’s shocking!
For instance, when you’re dehydrated you might:
- Feel foggy headed
- Have slowed reflexes
- Get grumpy
When you’re racing against the clock to stay on top of your list, you can’t risk those symptoms. Keep water nearby and drink up. (I love my bright blue Hydro Flask!)
Yes, you might need to go to the bathroom more often. But, you’ll get rid of your sluggish brain and make up the time in productivity.
What Do You Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, what do you do? Do any of these tasks help you, or do you do something different? Please share your experiences in the comments.
And if you know other overwhelmed mompreneurs who could benefit, please share this post with them!
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.