What do you do when there’s toooo much?
Too much to do?
Too much to tend to?
Too much to schedule?
And it feels like there’s not enough time to get it all done (and still keep your sanity).
Last week I turned over the page on the calendar to November and saw Thanksgiving weekend there at the end of the month. Right there in black and white.
I admit—I freaked out a little.
It’s not like I didn’t know Thanksgiving weekend would show up. It’s a pre-programmed Big Holiday after all. It’s not a surprise.
And yet it is a surprise because I’m always taken off guard at how quickly time flies after the first of September.
And, since I’m a glutton for punishment, I lifted the page to peek at December, but after a quick glance at Christmas, I dropped the page.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to “unsee” things. LOL!
The only word to describe it is Overwhelming.
So what’s a good way to turn down the volume on the overwhelm, especially at this time of year?
Here are my three go-to ideas to keep the “happy” in my holidays, the merry in my Christmas, and the joy in my days.
Know the One Thing
I know I can’t do everything, even if I really wanted to, but in an effort to keep the overwhelm under control, each morning I identify “the one thing.”
The One Thing is the single item on my to-do list that, when I go to bed tonight, if I managed to get only thing checked off as done, I can go to sleep happy. Mark today down as a success.
The One Thing can be anything.
Any. One. Thing.
Remember, the key word here is “one” — as less than two and more than zero. On any given day, I’ve written down things like finishing a blog post (that’s today), getting to the store for toothpaste (that was yesterday), or baking a batch of cookies (I’m saving that one until Saturday).
And I don’t try to fool myself by disguising really big things as a “do-able in a day”
There’s a difference between stirring up a dish of instant pudding and baking 5 dozen cut-out and decorated sugar cookies.
So look at your day and decide on One Thing that needs to be completed today, then work toward getting IT done.
Make a Break
Notice I said Make a Break not Take a Break?
When I feel overwhelmed, I know all too well there’s probably no likelihood of time magically appearing in the schedule to take a break.
While making a break may seem counter-intuitive, the truth of the matter is those times I’m least inclined to take a break are usually the times I need a break the most.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. By not taking a break, I’ve made careless mistakes and been stuck with a job that’s now longer and more difficult.
Overwhelmed by an Inbox full of email? Make a Break. I take my hand off the mouse, stand up, then walk downstairs for a fresh cup of coffee or iced tea.
Done in or frazzled by a big, long-term project? Make a Break. Schedule in a three-day weekends or a couple of half-days instead of full days to give myself some rest.
And make it easy to Make a Break. Pour only half a cup of coffee and you’ll need to get up and walk around twice as often for refills. Play vinyl records and you’ll need to get up periodically to flip from one side to the next. Make your phone charging station someplace across the room and you’ll have to make a break to see who’s texting.
When it comes to the old theory of motivation coming from sticks (avoiding negatives) or from carrots (gaining positives), I’m a real “carrots” kinda girl.
When I feel overwhelmed, the best reward I can imagine for myself is giving myself permission to carve out time for doing something totally selfish, something I love.
Maybe it’s grabbing a latte and going for a drive on a quiet country road. Perhaps it’s picking up a quilting or crocheting project or reading with music on in the background.
Honestly, some days, knowing I get to quilt for a half an hour at the end of the day is enough to get me out of bed in the morning.
The reward time may not last very long, maybe only 15-30 minutes, but I know it’s there, waiting for me…like the last Oatmeal Scotchie in the cookie jar.
And speaking of cookies…there’s one left and my One Thing for the day is done.
Definitely time to make a break for a reward.