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How to Handle Overwhelm

Listen While Reading: Warm Foothills // alt-J.

Feeling burned out? Nowadays, so many of us are juggling a million different things, and sometimes, it just gets really overwhelming. When there are so many things on your plate, it can be hard to know where to start, and how to keep the stress at bay.

Being organized is crucial for combating overwhelm. By adding a little structure to your life, you can alleviate stress and feel more accomplished. It will take time to develop a system that works for you, but the resulting productivity and confidence you’ll feel will make it well worth the investment.

Here are a few tips to help structure your days and keep the overwhelm at bay:

Develop and keep a weekly schedule

What are the most important things you need to get done this week? Spend a few minutes every Sunday to write them down. I am an advocate for using a pen and paper, as I feel it helps to “cement” things a little more (and it feels so good to cross things off!), but use whatever system works best for you. Keeping long-term goals in mind will help you with prioritization. Organize your tasks from most to least important, and spread them out according to your schedule for the week. You can even start by planning your days by the hour if you feel that will help you get into a more structured routine.

Practice monotasking

Oh, the dreaded monotasking! This is something I struggle with myself, but focusing on completing one task at a time is essential for productivity. If you’re trying to tackle 2-5 tasks all at once, you’ll just end up shuffling them around your to-do list without really crossing anything off. In addition, it exacerbates stress and overwhelm. Go through the scheduled tasks that you’ve listed from high to low priority, and only move from one to the next until you’ve checked the previous one off. And if it’s typically a big distraction for you, put your phone on airplane mode! It’ll make it easier for you to pretend that it doesn’t exist and, ultimately, stay focused.

Schedule breaks

Don’t forget to give yourself regular breaks throughout the day, and even take a day off when you really need it. Make self-care a priority, just like any other task on your to-do list, and you’ll be much happier, much less likely to feel completely overwhelmed, and you’ll also be more productive. It’s important to leave a little room for spontaneity and fun in your life, without letting other obligations or duties interfere.

It will take a little trial and error to figure out what your top priorities are and how to go about achieving them, but breaking things down into bite-sized chunks and practicing patience with yourself when working toward achieving your goals can work wonders.

Words by Tatiana Elghossain
 // Photography by Sydney Ferrara.

© 2015 Reef Magazine


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