How to Stay Productive When You’re Overwhelmed

This has been a long and stressful year for everyone, and you may find yourself feeling unmotivated to do even the smallest of tasks. This can cause things to pile up, and feel even more overwhelming! I am definitely guilty of this, and get frustrated with myself for delaying things that would only take a few minutes to do.

I’ve been working hard to try to stay productive and check off that to-do list with a few strategies. The first step is to give yourself grace! It’s been a hard and emotional year, and just surviving is a big enough accomplishment. Try not to be too hard on yourself over all the things that didn’t get done.

Have a Plan: In order to start tackling that overwhelming list of things you have to do, take a minute or two to strategize how to tackle it. If you need to run multiple errands, plan how you can do that in one outing. If you need to do a lot of cleaning, think about 1 or 2 rooms to start with. Be okay with the fact that you might not get it all done in one day, but a plan will help you start to chip away at it!

Schedule Time for Tasks: For me, this is the biggest help. If I say “oh I’ll pay my bills sometime today”, “sometime” ends up being never. I try to schedule an actual time for a task that I’ve been putting off in order to hold myself more accountable. If I know 10am is the time I’ve set aside for this activity, I’m more likely to just do it then instead of putting it off all day.

Eliminate Distractions: Maybe its your TV, maybe its your computer, most likely its your phone! It so easy to plan to do something, and then spend the next hour mindlessly scrolling social media. When you really need to get things done, put your phone in another room so you can focus on completing the task. This is key for me when I need to get cleaning done. I don’t let myself look at my phone until I’ve finished the project.

Do it Right Away: Sometimes the more we think about things, the more overwhelming it can be. I’ve been meaning to follow up on a few things by making phone calls and HATE making phone calls so I’ve been putting it off for weeks. Finally at 8am today, I just made the calls right away. It took all of 10 minutes, and now its done! I follow the same strategy with my workouts by doing them first thing in the morning. You don’t have time to think about it when you just wake up and do it!

Minimize Multitasking: When we have a lot to do, sometimes it seems like a good idea to do multiple things at once. Maybe things will get done faster if I start cooking, pay bills in the middle, while also trying to clean up the kitchen. In my experience, this just causes me to lose focus and end up with a bigger mess! Set aside time to focus on each individual task instead of trying to juggle multiple things at once.

Invest in the Right Systems: This is something that I’m still working towards, but sometimes its good to think more holistically about what’s on your plate! Do you need more organization in your house so things don’t become such a mess? Can you enroll in auto-pay for bills so that you don’t have to spend so much time paying them? Is there something worth hiring out, like lawn care, grocery shopping, or cleaning? Instead of just running on auto-pilot, think about what might be worth an investment now to free up time later.

Reward Yourself: I’m a big fan of treating yourself once you achieve a goal. Maybe its running to Starbucks after you’ve completed all your errands. Maybe its getting to take a break and check in on social media. Maybe its ordering something fun online because you tackled you to-do list! Give yourself positive reinforcement for your hard work. This will help encourage you the next time things start to pile up.

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