On Monday my plan to take care of all the basics of re-entry to my everyday world – laundry, putting food in the pantry, the mail, tidying up the travel detritus – went fine. I was perfectly content to follow the weird jet lag patterns of my body, which was still hovering somewhere over Greenland as a result of moving so rapidly over 12 time zones. Pretty tired, a little freaky, but I was still feeling the cocoon of vacation relaxation.
Then Tuesday came around. Got a good night’s sleep. Woke up at a normal time. Had a work day planned, with some client appointments and other workie activities. But, it wasn’t long into my early morning routine of coffee in bed with the iPad that I realized that stress had crept back in. Sneaky little sucker! I didn’t even realize it was happening.
Rather than enjoying the morning sun streaming in over my shoulder, I was starting to mentally move through all the things that I now needed to do – and I mean everything, from washing the dogs, to creating new products, to finishing the office renovation, to writing, to balancing bank accounts … You name it, it was swirling in my brain.
Sure didn’t take long to lose that lovin’ feeling of vacation, did it? Officially in overwhelm!
Rather than pull the covers over my head and remain paralyzed by the sheer amount of ‘to do’s’, I implemented a tried and true strategy that works like a charm.
Here’s how you can do it too.
Write it all down – every last little bit of every single thing you can think of. It doesn’t have to be pretty or organized or grammatically correct. Just dump your brain. This brain dump becomes your master list, your organizer. Use this list to keep track of all the moving parts, so your brain doesn’t have to. Relief!
You’ve got lots of segments of your life – work, family, home, friends and community. Break up your dump list into categories that work for you. I’d even suggest putting them on different pieces of paper or in different colors. Resist making this a bigger project than it needs to be though.
Guaranteed, not everything on your lists needs to be done now (though your brain may be sending red alerts). Determine the priority of the items on your list, based on need, your energy, and how the rest of your life works. You may even want to calendar some of your items so you are clear when you will be accomplishing them.
Maybe you’re like me and horribly underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a project. When will I learn?! The brain dump list will not get done today, or even this week, so realistically look at your priorities and create another list that is simply for that day. Then get moving, one thing at a time.
Success! I am steadily crossing items off my lists (dogs did get washed!) and knowing that I have a plan and an organized order allows my brain to stay out of overwhelm and to drift back to the Italian villa and bring Spanish siesta out to play.
What about you? Do you use a process like this or something else? How do you move out of overwhelm?