It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a society that values long work hours and impeccable productivity. We have so much on our to-do lists that it’s hard to get anything done. In the meantime, the tasks keep piling up, worsening the situation.
While scrolling through my favorite productivity community, I came across a thread that speaks to all of us. A user asked the community for tips on how to stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time.
“There’s just TOO much on your mind at any given moment, so what ends up happening is that nothing gets done, work days are unproductive, work piles up, nothing you want to do gets addressed,” shared the original poster (OP). “It’s just this almost paralyzing feeling where you end up just doing nothing at all & procrastinating everything because you’re so overwhelmed,” they added, asking others to share ways they’ve managed these feelings.
Here are some of the best responses that might help you beat the overwhelm and get things done!
Use an App
One user shared that using an app can help organize tasks. “I personally use the app Todoist, but try to search around for what works for you,” they replied.
Others agreed that finding an app that’s the right fit is essential. “This is great advice, especially the part about searching for the right fit for you. It may take some time, but you won’t regret it. I’ve tried several, and either didn’t like them or had my workload outgrow what I’d set up over time,” replied another.
Identify Your Values
We often focus on the wrong things because we don’t know the right things to focus on. It’s vital to reflect upon your life goals and determine what you value most. Once you know what you value, you can prioritize your ideas.
“You’ve got to really develop a sense of self and certainty in your self-determined values and let that lead you in confidence as you ruthlessly prioritize,” advised one user.
Brain dumping helps you get everything out of your head and onto paper. It clears your mind and enables you to visualize your workload.
Many users said brain dumping is essential when you’re overwhelmed.
“Start off by doing a brain dump of every single task you can think of in a “master list.” Every single thing you need to remember,” said one user, adding that you can start filtering the tasks by timelines and importance once they’re all in the same place.
“Write down everything that’s on your mind in one place. Whether that’s on a piece of paper or a note in your phone,” advised another.
Also Read: The Best Journals and Planners for 2023
Some users replied that constant feelings of overwhelm may be signs of a deeper problem, such as unresolved trauma.
“I had repeated trauma throughout my entire childhood (shoutout to r/CPTSD), & one of the effects of repeated trauma is you have trouble envisioning, & thus planning for, the future,” shared one, saying they’re currently in therapy.
Anxiety and ADHD can also cause these feelings, so if none of the productivity hacks help, you may benefit from seeing a doctor.
Pick 3 Things
The truth is we can’t do it all. Sometimes getting something done, even if it’s not the most important thing, is better than doing nothing.
One Redditor shared their method of accomplishing at least something in the face of overwhelm. “When I am overwhelmed, I try to pick 3 things I can do that day. I pick 1 big/hard thing, 1 medium thing, and 1 easy thing. If nothing else gets done, then at least I am afloat. And I can do 3 more things tomorrow.”
OP has so many hopes, dreams, and ideas that they get lost and end up not starting anything.
They described their brain as “an endless list of ideas, things you want to do, things you need to do, things you want and/or need to plan for, hobbies you want to make time for, goals you want to reach, things you want to create, skills you want to learn, information you want to consume, books you want to read, things you need to do for work, etc.”
One Redditor caught onto that and advised that they try to reduce the number of ideas they have rather than accumulate more. “You can collect so many potential ideas, so many things that you should do, but how many of those you NEED to do?” they asked.
It’s important to stay realistic about what you actually want to accomplish and what you have time for.
Give Yourself a Break
We don’t need to be productive all the time. One user stressed the importance of time off. “ I think it’s important to do fun things that take your mind away from “productivity.” I think it’s important to give your mind a break,” they said.
As a bonus, they’re usually more productive after giving themselves that extra time. “when I do sit down to do something productive after doing leisurely activities… I’m more focused and committed to what I’m doing,” they added.
One user promoted David Allen’s celebrated productivity book Getting Things Done.
They added some tidbits of wisdom they learned from the resource. “Accept the fact that you can focus on only a few key goals and let other ideas rest. This is deeply personal and can mean different things to different people “what’s my purpose in life.” Once that is clear, any number of tools and methods may be useful depending on your personal preferences. Remember, ‘One size doesn’t fit all.”
We spoke with David Allen about his external brain productivity hack – read what he had to say here!
Many users mentioned writing things down into to-do lists, priority lists, and planners to keep on track and prevent overwhelm.
“Track your progress in your journal. Helps with a dopamine boost,” offered one user. “Write things down. Get it out of your mind. If you don’t write it down, you will keep thinking about it. Get it out. Write it down,” insisted another.
“I write a daily list of things I need to do for work and things I need to do personally. You don’t need to complete it all, and you may just end up repeating the same things over and over again daily, but it will take it off your mind,” shared another user.
You Can Get Stuff Done!
There are many different reasons why you might feel overwhelmed. The great thing about hearing the perspective of others who experienced the same thing is that the responses are based on their experience with this feeling.
Some relate to mental health, others to prioritizing, and still, others to simply clearing your mind. Whatever your reason for being overwhelmed, someone else likely experienced it and can offer sage advice.
The Reddit thread is not all-knowing. If changing your habits and developing routines don’t help, consider seeing a mental health expert. You can get stuff done. You may just need extra help to do it.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.