I hated working hard but never getting done what I needed to. The anxiety felt like a grip at night when I remembered what I didn’t get to. I can show you how to quit the overwhelm for good.
In life, our tasks, commitments and responsibilities can feel overwhelming at times. They relentlessly come at us day after day and threaten to take us out physically and mentally. It’s a perfectly natural response to feel overwhelmed when the volume of tasks are bigger than our time and energy.
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Overwhelm is a word used when a wave falls down over you, pushing you underneath the water into a tumultuous tumble turn that’s so fast and forceful you can’t stand up.
Being swallowed, drowned or inundated by too much of something. Being swept off your feet, and not in a good way. You get the picture. Good. But it’s not pretty or pleasant when your right in the middle of feeling this way.
There are many reasons this can be happening and many different scenarios that will make your situation unique.
But there is often one primary reason that we feel like this and it’s that we are simply overestimating the amount of resource we have to do the tasks we need to do.
- too many things to do and not enough time
- too little time given to tasks that need to be done
- too little energy to complete the tasks we want to
Things can move pretty fast nowadays, we want things to happen quickly, we want results, answers, food and other needs to be met, all as soon as possible, please.
We do the same with things that simply can’t be rushed, we expect they will happen a lot sooner than is realistic and wonder why we don’t see results. We set unrealistic expectations for what needs be accomplished and wonder why we’re feeling overwhelmed. (there’s that word again!)
- Your on a roller coaster that won’t stop
- Exhausted at the end of each day
- Dread the next day coming
- Depressed your not making progress
- Frustrated you’re not enjoying life
- You don’t know how to change any of it
In order to not have this horrible feeling of being buried under things, we have to get a clear and correct view of what is really going on and what we can and truly need to accomplish.
Easier said than done, but it can be done. It takes a little bit of strategy and practice.
It means knowing what you have in the way of time, energy and decide for yourself what you want to do rather than life as it happens, making those choices for you. You don’t mind working hard but you do want all your effort to be for things that will make a difference long term for you & your family.
You can learn how to determine your most important priorities and responsibilities to make your life more manageable and pleasant.
THE JAR OF TIME
Our time is inflexible, just like a glass jar. A fixed quantity of volume that won’t expand or shrink. We can choose to put in it use whatever we please. Similar to time, each of us has the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks a year.
We cannot store it, save it for later, or buy more. Whether you are rich or poor you have been given the same amount as everybody else on earth.
To decide what goes in this jar you have to:
- Prioritise tasks & commitments
- Know what you can and shouldn’t do
- Make sure important things get done
LETS GET STARTED
#1 List ALL of the current tasks, jobs, activities, and commitments that you do. Whatever you can think of, write them down.
- Work / School / University
- Personal care
- Cooking & Meal Preparation
#2 Allocate time to each of these tasks
You might not know when you will do each task, but at least have a guess how long it will take. For example: Sleep – 11pm – 6.30am (7.5 hours)
Try and be specific about how long you spend on a task, you may not know when you will do it but at least find a general idea of how long it might take you each day/week.
This is an exercise that starts to give you a really clear idea about how much time things take and how much time you are busy in a day or week.
#3 DETERMINE YOUR ROCKS
There are still a few more steps to go to gain clear information about where your time is going and where you would like it to go. Each of your activities will have to be looked at and decided upon.
But first, we are to decide the ROCKS.
These are non-negotiable and not optional things we do in life. Totally unavoidable.
Think of rocks along the coastline, they are never, ever, going to move out of your way, and if you don’t adjust, you will smash into them if you ignore their existence. No matter how busy you are these tasks have to happen.
ADD THEM TO YOUR WEEKLY SCHEDULE
On your weekly schedule, a blank weekly layout or calendar app, or handwritten table, however, you have chosen to work on this. Mark out and include all the time you spend doing the following tasks that are essential to your week.
These things must happen regardless of whether you want them to or not. They are unavoidable long term.
EXAMPLES OF THE ROCKS IN YOUR WEEK
Sleep. How many of hours do you need each night?
Food and meal preparation. Food is what your body uses as fuel to survive. First, it has to be purchased, then it needs to be prepared and finally include time to sit and eat your meals for morning, midday and evening.
Time at work plus the commute time to and from each day you work. Mark out and include all the time you spend transporting yourself and others to work/school etc. and the time you spend at work throughout the week.
Home and personal hygiene. I am not saying if there was an earthquake and we lost the ability to shower we would die. I’m talking about general life and living and what’s important for general health. I have chosen to put it all together as a ROCK for self-care. Include time to take a bath or shower and brush your teeth.
House and home. Washing up after meals, keeping bathrooms hygienic, laundry, it has to be done at some point!
Daily/weekly exercise. This could be more optional for some people. I think for overall longevity it is good to assume you need time to move your body. If not for exercising the body but to help clear the mind. A leisurely walk time, to go for a run, bike ride, go to the gym, walk the dog.
THE SECOND STEP IS THE ‘PEBBLES’
Next, come the ‘Pebbles’, these are non-urgent but still important tasks, not essential but still significant. Whether these tasks are important or not is up to each individual, they decide if they need them. But they are also the things that make life fun and fulfilling. Think of colourful, shiny pebbles, all different shapes and sizes. Pebbles can be very pretty, and smooth, they fit into small spaces easily. Pebbles are added to the jar around the essential rocks. There is room for them, but not as much as you think, this is where the tension begins.
- Gym / Exercise
ACTION: What are your commitments & activities?
SAND IS THE ‘FILLER’
The unspecified, unallocated activities, that fill in the gaps. I have personally decided that the sand is actually the gold in life, the treasure, think of small grains of golden sand that run through your fingers. Sand is the area of margin that we create for things we wouldn’t recognise as tasks. Just like the margin in a textbook, which is used for notes, or last-minute changes. Some call it white space, breathing room, or wriggle room. The margin is the space you need to catch your breath between things.
Here you add the extra things that you know you need and/or want to do.
- Extra time to have a casual conversation or small talk
- Time to stop with your little while they look at a bug or pick a flower, you WANT to be that mother.
- Browse a magazine or read a book
- Play board games or have a family night
- Reading OR talking to your kids in bed at night
- Going for an evening walk, bike rides
What are the things that you want to start or start doing again?
What would make the biggest difference to your family relationships that you haven’t had time for lately? What would you find fun or relaxing? See ’20 Ways to Relax’ What appeals to you most of all?
PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER
Now you’ve allocated time for essentials that will happen regardless, and you decided how much margin you would like. How does everything fit? If it doesn’t the only place to adjust is the pretty ‘pebbles’. In all honesty, all you can do is either reduce the amount of time you are spending on these extra activities or remove them altogether.
- Decide to only volunteer once a week instead of 3x a week
- Take a year off from a particular commitment or role and see if it helps reduce stress levels at home
- Decide you will spend fewer hours in the clubrooms while you have a family at home that might need you
- Reduce your child’s sports to one a week instead of 2
You may try something and it doesn’t work and have to adjust things again, that’s normal.
Keep changing, correcting and trying different things until you find a balance that works for you and yours.