Every once in a while, life seems to conspire to dump on us a whole load of things to do all at once, and we end up stuck in a hole of overwhelm.
Right now, various tasks I have delayed doing over the past few weeks have run head-long into current responsibilities, including taking care of my husband as he recuperates from breaking the femur in his left leg.
It is as if there is a Mount Everest of tasks to accomplish; and the higher the mountain of tasks grows, the most resistant I am to doing any of them.
I can hear a voice from my childhood in my head taunting me with:
Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah! You can't make me do it!
(As adults, we call this phenomenon procrastination.)
So tuning into adult wisdom and lessons learned over the years, here are the strategies I have turned to in order to crawl out of the hole of overwhelm into which I have dug myself.
First, much to my surprise, I learned that our thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex) is only 4% of our brain. Furthermore, it is not designed to be a storage bin, but rather the creative problem solving part of our brain.
So my first strategy is to get that long to-do list out of my poor over-worked pre-frontal cortex and into a document. Using the outline function of Word, my to-do list is now divided into various categories, with priority items moved to the top of each individual category. (Let’s hear it for the outline function and cut and paste!)
This has freed up my thinking brain to focus on the task at hand, instead of trying to juggle an overwhelming list of obligations, which instead now safely reside in a document.
Way back in junior high (now called middle school) science class, I was amazed to find out that there are actually two types of inertia: inertia of rest (with which most of us associate that word) and inertia of movement.
So my second strategy is to figure out the easiest way to change my state of inertia from rest to movement. That turns out to be making a contract with my adult self to do just one thing.
The odd thing about this strategy is that if I can get myself to do just one thing, I find it much easier to do the next thing; because I have now tapped into the inertia of movement.
Making that contract with my adult self to do just one thing is the key to success with this strategy. It helps to turn off the little kid voice inside that is trying to lure me into delay and disruption of my plans.
I am able to do a number of things that I would never have gotten done if I had listed them all out to get done today. Overwhelm, procrastination and the inertia of rest kick in when long lists loom in front of me.
Please share your favorite strategies for dealing with overwhelm; and do let me know if the ones I have shared make sense to you.