Write Now! Tip: Overcome Overwhelm by Rochelle Melander
July 11, 2017
Note From Rochelle
A few nights ago, in the middle of making dinner, daughter called, “Sophie’s in your office again.” Our 14-year-old Cockapoo knows I often keep treats in my office. A few days earlier she’d found a giant cookie in my purse—which she carefully removed before devouring it. When I was able to check on Sophie, she was laid out on her belly, underneath my chair, with her head in a bag of kettle corn. She’d somehow managed to knock it off my desk, remove the chip clip and dig in. But that didn’t surprise me. In the past, she’s rescued candy from book bags and freed popcorn from grocery bags—she can do anything.
When I’m making dinner, interrupting Sophie’s adventures, and encouraging my children to do their chores—I get overwhelmed, much like I do when I tackle too many work tasks at once. Many of my clients are feeling the same way this summer. While summer brings many fun events, all that good stuff along with the regular daily tasks, can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Today’s tip is designed to help you overcome overwhelm and move forward.
The Write Now! Coach
By Rochelle Melander
At a recent networking event, we talked about feeling overwhelmed. Some attributed it to being busy at work while others experienced the crunch of juggling responsibilities in multiple areas of their lives. Many of my clients experience overwhelm when they have a big goal—writing a book or a blog—but aren’t sure how to start or what to do next.
When I feel overwhelmed by either life or writing, I tend to dig in and try harder. Maybe you can relate: Can’t figure out how to write that screenplay? Head to the library and check out a dozen how-to books. Wondering how to boost business? Spend hours surfing freelance writing websites until dizzy. Not sure how to focus social media efforts? Look at everyone’s shiny, happy photos on Facebook until you’re truly depressed.
Here’s the thing: when we’re overwhelmed, trying harder leads to more overwhelm, not less. Here are tools that I’ve found help my clients overcome overwhelm and move forward.
Turn off the noise
No matter where you live, you’ve no doubt got some noise in your life. I’m not talking about the kids next door setting of firecrackers every night or the birds waking you up at 4 AM with their songs. We get overwhelmed by the barrage of information we encounter daily—through social media, news, television, texts, and negative colleagues and friends. When life seems to be just too much, let go of some (or all) of this noise. You can always tune in later.
Instead of looking at your to-do list and worrying about getting everything done—schedule time to finish tasks. When you create your schedule, think about chunking similar tasks together—so that you schedule multiple appointments during a single lunch period or take an entire hour to tackle social media tasks.
Take smaller steps
Once you’ve scheduled your tasks, break down bigger tasks—like writing an article—into the tiniest steps possible. Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest step I can take?” If that still seems too big, break it in half. Keep doing this until you’re able to focus on completing the task.
Worrying about the future and revisiting the past fuels feelings of overwhelm. We can’t stay calm or get much done today when we’re wondering how we can tackle next week’s challenges. Commit to focusing on what you need to do in the next hour or fifteen minutes or any chunk of time that keeps you feeling calm and focused.
Take a mental health break
Stop working for an hour or a day and do something else. Take a walk. Check out your garden or the neighborhood park. Visit a little library. Watch a movie or binge watch a favorite series. Shower yourself with love and care. When you feel less frantic and more focused, return to writing and life.
Phone a friend
Remember all those times you moved a bed or a sofa—and how much easier it was when someone helped you carry it? Whether you’re trying to finish a book on deadline or juggle your new business and a growing family, a friend or colleague can help you make it through the tough times. Don’t beat your head against the table—call someone.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Leave your tips in the comments below. And, if you have friends or colleagues who are feeling distracted or overwhelmed, I invite you to forward this post to them. Thanks and happy writing!