How to Prevent that Overwhelmed Feeling
This morning when I looked at my clock it read 9:50am, but the next time I looked up it was 3:45pm and I had no idea where the day had gone. Sound familiar? By the time it gets to 5:00pm, I’ll end up staying back at work because the list of tasks that need to be done is growing steadily, but the phone doesn’t stop ringing and something new is always popping up to add onto the list. It can be a never ending cycle!
So in the lead up to the end of financial year when everything is constantly ramping up, how can you get a grip on your stress levels and prevent that overwhelmed feeling? Today I wanted to share with you 6 of my top tips that I try to use when I am feeling under the pump.
1. Use a way of tracking tasks that works for you
Highly organised people are always telling others about their To-Do lists and how it keeps them sane. But there are so many ways of tracking your tasks, it can end up side tracking you and making things harder than it needs to be – The key here is finding what works for you! It could be keeping your to do list on your phone in an app like Todoist, or on a whiteboard in the office so you can have the satisfaction of scrubbing it off at the end of the day. Whatever your chosen method, you need to stick to it and keep accountable!
2. Walk away from the desk
I can hear you now – ‘Sarah, I am so overwhelmed with tasks that need to be done and have no time to go for a walk’ and I get it. But when I get overwhelmed, I find my brain starts to shut down or I can’t think straight which leads to a poor outcome on the tasks I am completing. Going for a short walk, even to the bathroom or to grab a glass of water, allows me a few moments away from the issue so I can refocus myself when I get back to my desk.
3. Do you really need to be doing that?
Have a look over your to do list and prioritise the important tasks that honestly need to be completed as soon as possible. Whilst you don’t want to be constantly fighting fires over the course of the day, you do need to get important emails out or key project documents completed. As new tasks or projects come up, be honest and realistic on timeframes. It’s easy to tell people that you’ll have it over to them within 5 minutes (especially for what you consider is an easy task), but if you are in the middle of another task stay on track until its complete and then help them out when you are done.
4. Keep your desk or work area clean and tidy
When I first started working (straight out of university) one of my colleagues had the messiest desk; It honestly looked like I sat next to a bowerbird. He was forever digging around in the paperwork, trying to find important information which would stress him out, especially when he was on a deadline. A clear workstation or a good organisation system can help with anxiety as you have a clear understanding of where every thing is. As the old saying goes – A place for everything, and everything in its place.
5. Ban the social media and notifications
This is a big one! We hear about it all the time, but as a general statement, most of us are addicted to checking our phones and social media accounts multiple times during the day. (On average, it’s close to 53 times!) If you have your phone set up so that apps can pop up notifications to you, jump into your settings and turn these off. You can even switch your iPhone into Do Not Disturb mode for times when serious concentration is needed. On your desktop, you can install extensions such as Block Site on your internet browser that blocks access to pages during certain hours so you can’t have a sneaky peek at your Facebook page, or get stuck in the endless vacuum that is YouTube.
6. Schedule in some down time
It might sound strange, but I make sure to schedule into my day a few sessions of downtime. It might be an early morning walk with my dog, a coffee at the café before work or a session at the gym in the evening. Either way, I make an appointment with myself to get out of the work head space otherwise I can just get so bogged down in the outstanding projects, emails, phone calls and meeting requests. My mental health is just as important to me as my physical health, so I value these appointments as much as I would if I were actually meeting with someone. I know it might not work for everyone, but give it a go and see how you feel!
Being overwhelmed is a really sucky feeling, and I know you know that because you are reading this article! Oftentimes, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re actually over-thinking everything that needs to get done and mentally exhausting yourself. Instead of going down the rabbit hole again, stop and regather yourself. Bring yourself back to normality using one or all of the tips I have discussed above, and if all else fails make sure you reach out to your manager or team members at work. They might be able to share some more tips or insights to get you back onto the right path.