Do you feel overwhelmed?
Overwhelmed. It’s a word I often hear in the mom circles. We all seem to have more on our plates than we feel like we can handle.
Overwhelm means to bury or drown beneath a huge mass or to completely defeat someone.
That is exactly how many of us feel most days. As moms we are buried beneath mountains of laundry and drowning in sinks of dishes. When we get our heads just above the water, someone gets sick, gets hurt or makes an enormous mess and by the end of the day, we feel utterly defeated.
However, most of the time, the feeling of being overwhelmed is just that, a feeling, and we can beat that feeling. Here are five questions you can ask to help put things in perspective and keep yourself from being truly overwhelmed.
1. What are my commitments, responsibilities, and daily tasks?
First, ask yourself what your responsibilities and commitments are. List everything from the never ending tasks of dishes and laundry to the dreaded bill paying and scheduling. Do you have commitments at church or other organizations? Are you committed to time driving your kids to activities or a date night with your spouse?
I encourage you to make a list. I am a pen and paper girl, so I would just write it all down, but if you prefer to type, that’s fine. Either way, it helps to really see it all.
2. What MUST be done?
Look at the list you made to answer question one and begin pulling the items out of your list that simply must be done. These are the things that would cause a drastic change in your life if they did not get done. I am not talking about scrubbing the baseboards or organizing your closet by color and season. I am talking about laundry, dishes, cooking, bill paying, work, and all of the other things and truly MUST be done.
3. What do I WANT to do?
Next, pull out the items from your list that are things you really WANT to do. These are important! Finding time to do at least some of the things you love and value is truly important. It will keep you sane.
If there are no items on your original list of commitments and responsibilities that are things you truly just want to do, this is a problem. It means you are committed to doing lots of things you really don’t want to do. So, I encourage you, if this is the case, go back and add at least one thing that you really want to do.
Once you have pulled out from the list all of the things you must do and all of the things you do because you want to, you are left with a list of things that you don’t want to do AND you don’t have to! I encourage you to examine why you are doing those things and then, if possible, let them go. Stop doing them. There is power in the word “no.”
4. Where am I spending my time?
Answering this question is time consuming, but crucial, because it arms us with the truth. The feeling of overwhelm is sometimes a lie and trap. It could be true that we are over committed, and there is not enough time in the day to accomplish what we must do. However, it could also be true that we are allowing distractions or poor time management to cause us to lose valuable minutes of the day. As moms, we often have so much on our plates that we don’t know how to juggle it all, and a little bit of time management and prioritization can go a long way.
Break your day down into 30 or even 15 minute time increments. List fill in what must be done. If you have lots of empty space on your schedule, figure out what you are doing to fill up that time. Time suckers sneak in everywhere. Evaluate what you are doing based on what you value. Are you filling up your time with things your really want or need to do, or are you losing time to distractions? I use the free form found here to do this for myself.
5. What one thing stresses me the most?
Identify the one thing on your list of commitments that stresses you out the most. Decide if that one thing is truly a must or not. If not, let it go.
If it is something you must do, then eat the frog first. Get that one thing out of the way as early as possible in your day so you will not be paralyzed with dread. You will be able to accomplish more in your day when you are more relaxed.
When you have asked and answered all five questions, determine what things really matter to you, and let the rest go. Examine why you do the things you do and make sure those things reflect your values.
What other strategies do you use to fight feeling overwhelmed?