Do you feel like you’re constantly tired, swamped or even helpless? Well, it means you’re feeling overwhelmed. The good news is that you’re not alone.
Our lives have become increasingly demanding with the growth of technology. We’re presented with more complex challenges at a near-relentless pace as we face information overload. It’s often a case of “too much to do, too little time.”
As such, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. However, that doesn’t mean you should live with your jumbled-up thoughts. If left unaddressed, this feeling can cause you to be stressed and even lead to deteriorating mental health.
Here are a few simple ways to organise your thoughts amidst all the chaos so you can go back to feeling yourself and tackle life with a clear head.
Word vomit your thoughts
Tackling chaos with chaos may sound illogical but once you empty all your thoughts on paper in front of you, your mind will sigh in relief. When you can see what’s on your mind, it will be easier for you to declutter and organise your thoughts.
Although your brain is made to store unlimited information, it’s not always the best at retrieving and processing it internally, especially when it’s bombarded with too much information all at once. So, when you unload your thoughts, you’re helping your brain process information clearly as you now have something visual to refer to.
There is no format or a fixed guideline on how you should do this: start by taking out a pen and a journal, and writing down everything that’s running through your mind. Your scribbles don’t need to have any rhyme or reason for now – it can be your long overdue grocery list, your maid of honour speech, or your work presentation. Write it all down.
Categorise and prioritise your tasks
Once you’ve emptied your thoughts onto paper, you can start separating them into different categories so that you can easily identify and prioritise the tasks that are important and eliminate the fluff.
In your journal, draw up four boxes and “transfer” your thoughts into categories of urgent, not urgent, delegate, and eliminate. This way you can clearly see what needs to be done immediately, what can be postponed, which tasks can be passed on to someone else – especially if your plate is full – and what unnecessary information you can eliminate from your life.
Now, you can pick your prioritised tasks and include them in your planner or desk pad so that you can easily keep track of the deadlines and progress visually instead of burdening your brain. Plan realistically and start slowly to avoid getting overwhelmed again. As you cross off a task, add one more.
If you feel like you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks and information – it happens – repeat the above steps.
Multitasking may seem like the most productive thing to do but it can take a toll on your mind. Not everyone is made for multitasking, and even if you are, you have to make sure it’s actually productive. More often than not, the constant switching between tasks can really be counterproductive – one task may be less perfect than the other.
Generally, you should focus on one task at a time. It reaps far more satisfying results than working on several things at once as your full focus is on that one task and you won’t be overwhelmed with too many things at the same time.
The best way to do this is by removing distractions such as your phone and other electronic devices so that you won’t be tempted to check on them in the middle of your task. You could also time block yourself on your planner or desk pad in order to concentrate fully on the task at hand before moving on to the next one.
Create a routine and stick to it
The stability of a routine can help centre your thoughts and give you a sense of structure, preventing you from feeling overwhelmed. You can take refuge in the fact that you have a consistent daily schedule, especially on days when you feel like your thoughts are overburdening you.
Create a daily routine in your planner or desk pad – it could be waking up at 5am daily for a jog or a movie night with your partner. You could even set a routine for your bedtime because lack of sleep has been shown to affect the way your mind processes information. Note down your sleep schedule in a sleep journal, where you can also track your sleeping habits and work on improving them.
The most important part of a routine is sticking to it. So, help yourself be consistent by setting realistic and simple routines that you know you can follow through. However, if you do miss something out once in a while, don’t beat yourself up about it. Pick up where you left off the next day and keep going!
Declutter your workspace
Your mind is not the only thing that needs decluttering when you feel overwhelmed. Your surroundings play a significant role in how you feel and when your workspace is messy and disorganised, it can make you feel stressed.
A clean and tidy workspace can help you feel like you’ve got everything together and that positive feeling will keep you calm and energised as you go about your daily tasks. Take a day off to organise the mess in your space. Make sure all the insignificant and distracting items are packed away in a box or drawer, away from your sight.
It’s okay to slow down and take a breather
These tips aren’t exhaustive and there is no one-size-fits-all method to organise your thoughts. Treat this as a flexible guideline and customise it to fit your lifestyle and needs. Only you know what works best for you!
However, if you are still feeling overwhelmed, it’s time for you to slow down and take a breather. It’s okay to not feel okay sometimes. Your body and mind need rest from being busy all the time. Take a deep breath, rest, and get back to your task with a new set of fresh eyes. Good luck!