Feeling Overwhelmed

There is more to life than increasing its speed. – Gandhi

Do you feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? You’re definitely not alone. And now that we’re on the verge of heading into the holiday season, many people go from simply being busy to feeling overwhelmed.

Even though it may not seem that way, you have more control over your to do list than you think. In order to stop feeling overwhelmed, you need to be willing to make a conscious choice to cut back, do less, and simplify. The following tips can help you do that:

1. Step back. If you’re feeling overwhelmed to the point of being unable to get anything done, stop. The longer you look at that endless to do list, the less you’ll accomplish. Take a deep breath, step away from your desk, or take a short walk to clear your head.

2. Prioritize. Do you really need to do everything on your to do list, and do you need to do it all right now? I’ve always liked Steven Covey’s system of sorting items on your to do list into urgent, important, not urgent, and not important categories. Surprisingly, it’s the items in the “important but not urgent” quadrant, not the things that are “urgent and important,” that should receive your greatest attention. For example, daily playtime with your cats is important but not urgent. Feeding your cats, however, is important and urgent! For a more detailed (and less cat-centric) explanation of Covey’s important/urgent matrix, visit Practice This or go straight to the source and read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

3. Learn to say no. You can’t be everything to all people.

4. Eliminate. Look through your prioritized to do list. Do you really need to do all of these things? What would happen if you dropped some of the items off your list? Chances are that the consequences wouldn’t be nearly as dire as you might imagine.

5. Make time for yourself. This may seem counterintuitive, but unless you make time to take care of yourself, you won’t have any energy left and you’ll feel even more overwhelmed.

Cats don’t have to do lists, and as a result, they don’t feel overwhelmed. So who’s smarter after all?

Do you often feel overwhelmed? What has helped you cope?

15 Comments on Sunday Purrs: Feeling Overwhelmed?

  1. What a great post, Ingrid!!! Thank you so much for sharing these precious tips!
    You are so right… cats are masters at not feeling overwhelmed, we have lots to learn from them!
    I have found that nature helps me a lot when I feel overwhelmed… stepping back always helps — as do your other great points!

  2. The quotation made me stop and think.
    I need to do something about my overloaded life, have no idea what could work for me… but I stopped and started to think about it.

  3. Ingrid – many of us have been on this same wave length for weeks and we can never hear this advice too much. Taking it and following through are a different matter entirely, but I am trying my best to find time for “me” as well. My cats are the best yardsticks for this – I have been gradually getting ready for the CWA Conference, rather than packing in a panic the night before. My sweet little Mia is snuggled up in a ball in my suitcase – her attitude and advice is duly noted!! I’m going to go relax and eat some lunch!

    • Deb, I think this is a trend right now because this tends to be a busy time of year for people – and when you’re alraedy busy, it does get overwhelming. We’re all lucky that we have our cats to remind us to slow down!

      Make sure you check your suitcase before you leave – sounds like Mia is looking to hitch a ride!

  4. I cannot begin to tell you how timely this is for me!

    The past month or so I have been feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, sleep deprived, on edge, etc, etc.

    This past weekend we were celebrating my sister-in-law’s 60th birthday…in order to CALM DOWN, relax and enjoy the festivities I did something I have NEVER done since I started blogging.

    Since last Thursday (I think) I only read blogs that I subscribe to via email (such as yours, if bloggers don’t have a subscribe by email option, they SHOULD! Those are the ones that are ALWAYS on my “must read” list), I didn’t update Cat Chat the ENTIRE weekend, and only updated Dakota’s Den once.

    It wasn’t something I was thrilled about doing, but for me it was necessary to ensure that I could FINALLY unwind, relax and enjoy the people and events that are a part of my IMMEDIATE life. I love everyone in my “online life” but the people in my daily life had been sadly neglected.

    I feel much better and need to do this more! I put pressure and self-imposed deadlines that aren’t necessary. 2012 will involve major “re-working” in order to provide for ME!

    Thank you for the MUCH NEEDED reminder!

    • Caren, good for you for cutting back on your blog reading, and for taking a break from updating your own blogs. And you know what? Your readers will still be there. One of the first things I started eliminating from my own to do list were the self-imposed deadlines – that goes right along with what I said in the post, the consequences of taking something off your list aren’t nearly as dire as we think!

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