Category Archives: Productivity

When Too Much To Do Overwhelms You

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Sometimes, life gets incredibly busy. We have soccer games, staff meetings, project deadlines, family dinners, and much more. Our brains are forced to juggle it all. It’s easy to understand how we could forget a few things every now and then.

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(Photo Credit)

Feeling overwhelmed is not an enjoyable experience. We feel there is an insurmountable task list, but at the same time we don’t know where to start.

I often feel this way when I’m teaching. There might be two or three lessons we need to cover, but then we also have to do the spelling bee, go to the computer lab, and finish our read-aloud. Some days it feels like I’m drowning.

During the course of this first semester, I’ve discovered there are three things I can do when I feel overwhelmed.

1. Make a to-do list with everything on it. I often keep a sticky note on my desk with a running list of things to do. I put even the smallest, silliest tasks on the list. If I get a moment to sit down, then I have the list in front of me. This helps on especially stressful days when I can’t quite figure out where to start. I’ll just pick one thing from the list and check it off. Then, the moment carries, and I move on to the next item.

2. Accept that things might get done out of order. Some days, there are certain absolutes to accomplish. For example, we might have two assessments to complete. I have to be willing to rearrange the schedule so these things get done. You probably have similar circumstances. You might have to meet a client for coffee, so you move around your morning appointments. Change will happen, but it’s so much easier if you are flexible and ready to work with it.

3.Think big picture. Is the task you haven’t completed yet going to affect a big project deadline or an evaluation of your work? If so, then it’s one you need to hustle toward finishing. Those tasks are often the ones that keep you late at the office, so they are hard to get excited about starting. However, in the big picture, you will feel more satisfied for having checked it off the list.

It’s easy to run around pretending to be busy when things get stressful, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors by “acting” productive. We have to get some things knocked out, so we can enjoy the non-work areas of our lives. Just think how much better you can enjoy a coffee date with your spouse or friend when there’s nothing to do hanging over your head.

Question: How do you fight through overwhelming circumstances?