There aren't many guarantees in life, but this is one of them.
There WILL come a time where there's just TOO much to do.
You're frazzled, you past ‘overwhelmed' hours ago, and the idea of starting feels pointless because the black hole of “to do's” is never-ending. You're paralyzed in the thought of “How in the world am I going to do this?”
Bookmark this tab and come back to it when you find yourself in a moment like this. It's difficult to think clearly when our mind is so overstimulated. This simple checklist list will help you stop feeling stuck and start being productive.
Pause for 60 seconds.
I know what you're thinking. “‘Are you kidding? I'm reading this because I don't HAVE 60 seconds to just sit around.” I'm here to tell you, yes, you do. Pause. Breathe. Until you are able to clear your head a little and approach your tasks with a slightly calmer headspace, you won't be productive. Remind yourself that this moment is temporary. Perspective will help.
Start brain dumping.
Get. that. ish. out. of. your. head.
It's doing no one ANY good swirling around up there, demanding for your attention. Sit down with good ol' pen and paper, make a voice memo, or text yourself—anything works. Just get it out so you can begin giving attention to what you need to.
Once you have your list, try not to worry about how many things are on it. Instead, give it a very gentle prioritization. Schedule where you can, or even save that mental work for later. Right now, all you need to know is: What is BOTH important and urgent? What absolutely HAS to be done? Those things are your focus right now.
Do the smallest task first.
Sometimes we just need a win. We just need to check SOMETHING off on our list to get the ball rolling and feel capable. It doesn't matter if this is a legitimate task or something as simple as “Stand up.” or “Have a sip of water.”
Give yourself the grace to start small and see the list grow just a little shorter.
Do the biggest task first.
Wait, what? Didn't I just say…? Yeah, I did. You CAN start with the small task first. But that's not how everybody rolls. Have you heard the saying, “Eat the frog”? It basically means that when you're starting off, get the biggest, toughest, most dreadful task out of the way first. Once you eat the frog, everything else seems a little sweeter.
If you have more than one frog (because sometimes life is just like that)? Eat the biggest one first.
Set a timer.
Anyone that has children or has worked with children knows that us “adults” are basically just tall toddlers.
We need structure. We need routine. And when we can't jumpstart ourselves to get a task done, sometimes setting a small timer helps our toddler-brain hop to it.
Whether it's 5 minutes or 30, commit to a small amount of time (whatever that is for you in this moment). Tell yourself you are not allowed to do anything else for that amount of time. Even if you only get one sentence written or a few pieces of laundry folded, you BEGAN. And that's the hardest part.
Outsource where you can.
No one can do it all. No one should be expected to, either.
If you can, call a family member or friend to pick up the kiddos from school. Ask your partner for a little extra help. Call a friend and be honest about what you need. All of this depends on your own situation and what support system you have around you, but I guarantee someone is there that would love the chance to take something off your plate.
Give your attention to whatever you can right now, and be sure to give yourself some grace in the meantime.