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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am finding myself overwhelm with so many tasks, that I end up shutting down and don't do anything.

My list is longer than the time that I have so I end up doing nothing and making it worse, which is not great for my anxiety issues.

Anyone have any strategies or suggestions on how to cope with this?

TIA
 

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Very familiar with that feeling, and I tend to boycott really essential tasks in favor of brainless things like dishes.

I'm not perfect, but try to:
- make lists when I'm feeling overwhelmed. My favorite way is to type out prose of everything going on in my head, then bold the "to-do" items and turn it into list form
- emphasize everyday things and urgent things. The everyday things I work hard to integrate into my daily routine in the easiest way possible, and then I can easily target the urgent things when I get moments of free time and my head starts spinning. The middle stuff often doesn't get done, and often doesn't seem to matter in the long run
- address each area a little bit so you don't feel like you're totally underwater. For instance, I will sometimes run through the house setting a 2 minute timer for each room. Makes a big difference!

That's all I've got right now. I'm sitting here doing this instead of prepping dinner. Whoops :)
 

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When I'm feeling like that, I make a list of the 6 very most important things. Those are my goals for the day, just those 6 things.

I'm not sure why this works. For some reason, I can actually get 6 things done -- any more than that, and I end up getting nothing done. The trick for me is to admit to myself and I am not going to get everything done today, and then let myself prioritize.

Also, I make my list on a 3 x 5 card. That way it stays really short.
 

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I make lists but they do get to be overwhelming. When it gets crazy I make the short list of things today for the day and like the idea of putting it on an index card. If I have a ton of things going on I try to split the list up across the categories as well like... 2 housekeeping tasks, 2 homeschool tasks, 1 Must do item, 1 decluttering or other task. This helps me make some forward motion in each "area" even if I can't do it all. This way I don't find myself days later feeling like I did complete a few things but completely neglected X all week.
 
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Yes, yes, make a list just for the day. I like the idea of limiting it to 6 things. At the end of the day, throw the list away.

In the meantime, what is dragging you down? I don't mean you to answer me, because I am the same exact way. I mean you to think about it for yourself. I have a tendency of dealing with stress by editing out things I need to do. The problem comes with being an adult, and those things you need to do never go away nor can they be easily edited. The stuff that needs getting done will be back to needing to get done again even if you do it. It's endless. Is there anything *outside* of this pile of stuff that is dragging you down? Get rid of it. Dead serious, get rid of it. Editing isn't as simple as when we were 20 and f**k that. We have obligations now,and to other human beings. We can't be so selfish, but sometimes we need to indulge in some selfishness again, even when it inconveniences others. This is survival we're talking about, or at least it is for me.

The flipside of not getting anything done is never truly stopping, either. I exist in a state of tension-- neither getting anything done, nor am I resting. So part of getting things done is learning to rest, without guilt even if things are left undone. You must do this. You must have some time to relax completely. I need to learn to compartmentalize my time. After years of kids interruptions, I have had to relearn this from scratch. Still working on it. No advice there. Unfortunately. But now a know, and I can do it some days kinda sorta but definitely better than before.

Can you snuggle with the kiddos and not get anything done? At least if nothing gets done, you can say that the time doing nothing was well-spent. Eat some ice cream (and don't do the dishes) watch some TV or read books in tandem. Lie down together and look at the clouds. Screw everything else.

It's OK for life to be messy. Get the stuff done that needs to get done. Is it causing anyone else stress, excepting you? Focus on other things. Change your paradigm. It's OK for life to get messy.

Things that need to get done? Put on some loud music and get the deadline stuff done first, next the stuff that clogs up the household gears, so to speak, including the things that are looked for and lost, and then done. You don't need to finish. You will never finish. I like the 6-item list. You have to know when to stop, and I think that's a good reason why we might never want to start.

Stop judging yourself about feeling paralyzed the more stuff piles on. Because why? Part of what is creating so much weight is that judgment of how and what you *should* be. You must let go of this. Then you let go again. And again. And again, because it keeps happening and you keep letting go of it. Stop thinking (if you are) that this will go away once you learn a few tricks. It won't. But if you stop judging yourself for being like this, it will help *immensely*.

Ask for help. Even if it feels out of balance. We tend to look at fairness externally-- she does XYZ, he does ABC-- but the reality is that some intangible things count as "doing"-- being ever-present for kids. Women especially tend to be worse at compartmentalizing their roles-- we carry the weight of our responsibilities through the day (see above). It is perfectly fair to say, "This feel like this much weight to me, even though on the surface it looks like less. I need you to take on more for me, at least for a while." It took one really bad day of malaise and irritation for my husband to empathize with what I experience day in, day out, all night and 24/7. He has stepped up, and without complaint.

Good luck. Hope my rambling helps. It was a good pep talk for myself, writing this out, because this is one of my biggest battles. Every day it is a battle, but I am infinitesimally better than a few months ago. You can't tell from the look of my house, but if you were inside me, you can tell. My good days are better days; my bad days are slightly less awful.
 

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It's OK for life to be messy. Get the stuff done that needs to get done. Is it causing anyone else stress, excepting you? Focus on other things. Change your paradigm. It's OK for life to get messy.
I like this. An old friend of mine had a plaque on her front door that read, "cleaning while children are growing is like shoveling while it is still snowing."

When my kids were younger and it was all still crazy All The Time, I liked to think of it being like being in water. If you know how to swim, it is OK to be in water that is way over your head, even in waves. If you don't know how to swim, you can drown. The trick is to learn how to swim at the top of the water rather than letting it drown you. For me, that meant picking the most important 6 things and letting everything else go for today.

I also use a timer. It's great for those "too huge to start, too out of control to ignore" situations. I can do anything for 15 minutes, so I work on something for 15 minutes, stop when the timer goes off, and feel better because 15 minutes is actually enough time to make a difference.

Stop judging yourself about feeling paralyzed the more stuff piles on. Because why? Part of what is creating so much weight is that judgment of how and what you *should* be. You must let go of this. Then you let go again. And again. And again, because it keeps happening and you keep letting go of it.
I agree. In Buddhism, this is called the second arrow. The first arrow is whatever is actually wrong, the second arrow is how we beat our selves up over it.
 

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I get this way all. the. time. these days. Feeling frozen from my overwhelm. I rely on a piece of advice someone told me about time management - which is to eat your frog first. I.E. force myself to do the most difficult thing first thing. It always makes me feel better because my stress is reduced, and it feels so good to get something really important done.
 

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I'd try to

do the stuff that MUST be done then everything else must give way. For routine things like laundry, if necessary, I do a load nearly every single day so that it doesn't become unmanageable. Enlist help. If you CANT do it then you will have to let it go or if you can't then get help or make something change/reduce expectations. I feel this way about money, paying bills, buying groceries. It's like climbing a giant sand dune and pretty much never seeing the top (never mind going over). I agree you must find satisfaction in something, even if it's just taking a long hot bath uninterrupted, getting into clean clothes and standing outside in the sun listening to the birds with no one else around.
 

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I get it!

I get that way too. I am constantly overwhelmed by all I have to do. I'm usually racing around trying to get it all done at once at max. stress or I just completely shut down and do nothing. I agree with making lists. It's super helpful for me to track it all. I just actually made one this morning and after I did, I felt like "what in the heck am I so worried about?" It's a list and it's long but I can do it. So, listing helps me.

I'm also learning to trust my own pace. Sometimes I feel like I have to do everything right now. I feel like everyone else can do it and I just can't...which I'm sure isn't logically true. Or I feel like I should be able to keep up the pace all the time. But here's what I'm starting to see--I have my own pace. I can't measure that against everyone else. I can't get everything done right now, even though I want to. I have to trust my pace and if that means my plants that are sitting on the patio right now don't get planted until July, who cares?! I'm the only one who can see the whole list. It's up to me to set my priorities and give myself grace.

I also want to share 2 phrases that I got from Alanon that really help me.

Do the next right thing.

Progress, not perfection.

I use them all the time and they help me move through my days. I wish you all the best. I'm off to work through me list!
 

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My productivity dropped drastically when I became a mom. As someone who prided herself on being responsible and organized, I found it very stressful!

Now that my kids and I are older, I think what's worked best if my adjusting my hopes. Do I want an organized linen closet? YES. Do I want to use the energy I have for today on organizing the linen closet or should I conserve it so I can help my kids with their homework later? Generally the latter wins out.

My house is messier, my meals are worse, but I'm overall happier. I get to things I want to do, just now when I want to do them. : )
 

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My productivity dropped drastically when I became a mom. As someone who prided herself on being responsible and organized, I found it very stressful
Omg, this was so me, too. Parenting is the first thing I have ever not excelled at. It was a big blow. I'm still struggling to come to grips with myself as mediocre rather than the high achiever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Very familiar with that feeling, and I tend to boycott really essential tasks in favor of brainless things like dishes.

I'm not perfect, but try to:
- make lists when I'm feeling overwhelmed. My favorite way is to type out prose of everything going on in my head, then bold the "to-do" items and turn it into list form
- emphasize everyday things and urgent things. The everyday things I work hard to integrate into my daily routine in the easiest way possible, and then I can easily target the urgent things when I get moments of free time and my head starts spinning. The middle stuff often doesn't get done, and often doesn't seem to matter in the long run
- address each area a little bit so you don't feel like you're totally underwater. For instance, I will sometimes run through the house setting a 2 minute timer for each room. Makes a big difference!

That's all I've got right now. I'm sitting here doing this instead of prepping dinner. Whoops :)
Thanks for the suggestions. I tend to have these ups and downs and lately more down then up. I really do need a daily routine, but I am so bad at it. I have a timer that I was using for my daughter potty training, so I will give that a go in the mornings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My productivity dropped drastically when I became a mom. As someone who prided herself on being responsible and organized, I found it very stressful!
I was the same way too, and most times I let it go and I am kind to myself and then I get these depressive breaks and my energy drops.
 

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Even with routines, they need to be broad and without an idea of what it needs to look like, or when that routine falls by the wayside we judge ourselves again. Chances are good, you already have a routine-- a routine that is not helping you get the things done you need to and isn't serving you well. It is not lack of routine.

It's always a balance (and sometimes that balance is a pendulum, not an "even-keel") between nourishing the spirit with calmness and taking a preemptive, proactive approach to clear away the things that cause the stress in the first place. It's a balance between charging ahead and doing, and stepping back and letting go.

You will know how you feel, or you will in time when you start paying attention. Left the dishes to sit overnight? Did that feel good to let go of that expectation, and did you accept you decision next morning when you started the day in the kitchen? Or maybe it discouraged you so much you left those dishes for later yet again? I go through phases where it feels better to let go of those things, and then for a while it feels better to actively change it. Face it; I am never going to be that "even keel". My balance is over a longer time frame.

What is your routine, without judgement? I think you already have an idea. What can tweak it just enough? Setting an alarm for 1/2 hour earlier? (Or start with 15 minutes and work up to more.) My goal is to start my yoga on mornings I do it by 10am. Earlier isn't good for my body, but 10 is kind of late, so maybe set a goal that between 9am and 10am I do some random, annoying stuff on the computer. Change passwords, pay a bill or two, renew library books, return an email or text, etc. Maybe to spend 5 minutes writing down those 6 items.

I'm trying to work *with* my tendencies rather than against them, but finding that sweet spot is not easy. I need to focus on long-term changes, because I inevitably fail at the sudden short-term successes. One month is the maximum I can sustain it when that happens (I haven't seen a month like that in years) and then it breaks my heart watching everything fall to s**t. I need to make little changes, a bit at a time. I managed to create an enduring yoga routine that is my joy and my refuge that I look forward to. I managed that in a period of two years. It was not quick, but it has eventually stuck.

Anyway, a few random thoughts that will hopefully help. I am still deep in this struggle, but I've made tiny changes that have an overall positive effect, but I'm at a relatively low spot in my energy.

Speaking of time-- look, it's 10:04 and I need to get onto that yoga!
 

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Another idea that has worked for me in the past: a "reverse to-do" list. I didn't keep this up, but I think it had a lasting effect on me, showing all the things I did do instead of just crossing it off. Then I threw away the day's list, because tomorrow might not be so impressive.

I tend to be sluggish in the mornings, so getting off my bum is the hardest part, and the "done" list might look like this (yes, I include the tiny, tiny things):

Woke up, 5:30 (I like my alone time in the mornings!)
Let chickens out (before 9am!!! Woo hoo!!)
After some computer time with breakfast, I had coffee and read 4 chapters of Dune (4 chapters! Woo hoo!)
Helped girls with breakfast
Paid full attention to the girls' conversation with me
Brushed teeth before 11:30!!!
Computer minutiae
Kitten chores-- made new litterbox, cleaned up floor
Made list of stuff to do (yes!! making a list is on the list!!)
Put away bed (it's a roll-up in the girls' big room)
Got ready for yoga (It's quarter to 11 and I still haven't started, but that's gotta be okay)


If it looks like a diary, it kind of is. Don't forget to pitch it at the end of the day, because the point is to see what you did accomplish that day, according to what you were able to do. What I can do today (I'm feeling a bit energetic today) is not what I'm going to be doing the next day. The next day, I might have little more than "brush teeth and get dressed by noon". Don't judge yourself. At the end of the day, before you pitch the list, take note of what you managed, physically and emotionally. Whether you are thankful or happy or whatever, take one moment to honor the effort you put into the day. Love yourself, just for a moment.
 

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i like the "reverse-to-do list" concept !
Me too! I have always hated to-do lists. The tyranny of them! I am so bad at making useful ones, and the ones I do make glare at me and make me shrink into a corner. Writing one can be like conjuring up a djinn to torment you purposefully. :p Why would I do that???
 

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lately i have started using a spiral bound notebook again (which i got for half price last November, when the store were getting rid of some of the "back to school supplies"....) which has a double advantage that - i can close it or put it at another page, anyway, i have several different lists on different pages (it has blocs of sections of different colors, for 5 days of the week, standard french notebook for writing homework for grade age school kids !) AND .... whenever i feel like it, i enjoy tearing away the top page !!!!
Had stopped using it because of other issue, but these last few days, it's a strategy that has been working for me ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have started the list and breaking it into sections- I am also trying positive talk and telling myself "it's okay if xyz isn't done and enjoy some rest and crochet"

I have also started day 2 of quitting smoking - this was a stress relief for me but made me feel even worse about myself. I am trying not to stress myself so I don't give into temptation. My energy level is so low cause my body is fighting the cravings, but i am not giving in. Although I don't prefer this I am using a nicotine replacement therpy that runs for 10 weeks

One day at a time:thumb
 
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