6 Ways to Deal with Overwhelm as a Writer

Are you looking for ways to deal with overwhelm in your life? Overwhelm is when we feel we’ve got too much on our plate, and achieving goals feels like a mountain to climb. It feels like there is too much to do, and often pressure to do it in a limited time. It is something we’ve all experienced, whether at home or at work. So, if you finding it hard to get on with tasks because of overwhelm, here’s some actionable tips you can use to get back on track.

First things first!

Whoa there mama… when you feel the emotional wave of overwhelm, stop what you are doing and breathe. When your thoughts are jumbling over what needs to be done, and where and how, then you need to take a moment to get some clarity to your mind.

1. Focus your Focus

If you freelance like me, you’ll know how it feel to have time on your hands one minute, then so much work to do you need to stay up half the night to complete it. Maybe you have another side hustle that you’re working on too, to bring you in some more income. Juggling paid work, side incomes and running a home can sometime make me feel like I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start, or I even might delay starting in the first place because I can’t face it. Total overwhelm!

Trying to focus on lots of tasks at once is bound to make us giddy, and although women are said to be natural ‘multi-taskers’, when it comes to getting shit done, its best to focus on the most important tasks first.

So, make a list of your priorities. I love lists, and I love ticking stuff off. Geeky, yes. Helpful? Yes!

What is the biggest challenge you face that is causing a feeling of overwhelm? Write it down. Then break that challenge down into small steps, even tiny steps, and just work on one at a time.

2. Make a Schedule

If you are working on a project that has to be done by a certain date, try to make a schedule of what to work on and when to ensure you stay on track. I like to use google calendar for this. Treat your work like an appointment you can’t miss, and fit other stuff around it. Make sure that when you switch your computer on, or look at your phone, in the morning, you check your calendar to see your schedule for the day, and stick to it!

If you have a work space, a visual calendar on the wall is often a great motivator, because it is always there for you to see. Use stickers or Post-Its to create a colourful, organised look to your week ahead. You could also use a daily planner to co-ordinate different aspects of your daily life. Check out the FREE resources to get a printable daily planner!

3. Sort out your Inbox

You did know that you’re inbox has folders, right? Create new folders to separate emails into different categories, or you just end up with a list of jumbled information. As someone with almost a thousand emails in my inbox, this is advice that I followed to help me stop feeling overwhelmed.

The same goes for the files stored on your computer too. Don’t just save and move on, put them in a folder so you don’t have to scan your list every time you want to find a file you’ve been working on.

4. It’s Ok to Say ‘No’

It’s hard being self-employed because you don’t want to turn work away, yet at the same time it can be really stressful to take on too much. But, you need to be realistic for the sake of your mental health and your work/life balance. Also, you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer because you’ve spread yourself too thin.

If you have a demanding client who keeps adding to your workload, just be honest with them. Say something like, ‘I’m too full this week to work on that, but I could schedule some time next week,’ or ‘I have commitments, so unable to take this on for now.’ If you value your time, it will become clear to others that your time is valuable.

5. Delegate

If you are a freelancer with a deadline to meet, ask for help from family members. Ask your partner to cook, get your kids to put the washing out to dry, or walk the dog. If you have co-workers, see if you can offload some of your smaller tasks with a promise to do the same for them if they need help another time.

6. Look After Yourself

Self-care is essential to managing stress and overwhelm. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and a good night’s sleep sets you up to take on challenges to do with work or personal life.

When dealing with a stressful work load, take breaks to refresh your self mentally and physically. Go for a brisk, 10 minute walk to clear your mind and get the blood pumping. You will often find it easier to focus again afterwards.

Don’t forget to reward yourself for your hard work too! Having a treat when you tick something off your to-do list can be a great motivator.

Dealing with overwhelm is a mental game, rather than being based on your ability to get tasks done. Once you begin working productively, you’ll be surprised by what you can actually achieve in a short amount of time. The trick is to get your mind feeling motivated to begin, and having the stamina to stick to your schedules. Organisation is also key to dealing with overwhelm, and writing down tasks lets you look at them methodically, re-jig your priorities if you need to, and see the steps you need to take meet your goals.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with your workload? Feel free to drop me a line, or share in the comments!

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