Do you ever feel like, “Dang, I have so much to do and I literally do not know where to start!” Well, you are not alone my friend. That's something I’m all too familiar with, especially as a mama and entrepreneur. There's always something more I could be doing.
The problem with this kind of thinking is, when we keep ruminating on everything we have to do, we are overwhelming our brain with useless energy. We’re doing real damage to ourselves because we're slowly building up a mental block of stress. Think of a mental block like a dam that blocks the flow of water.
All of those thoughts that are piling up are slowing you down and preventing you from flowing.
So how do we bust through this barrier? Well, I'm glad you asked!
Here’s an easy three-step exercise:
Remove unimportant items.
Dump and declutter remaining thoughts.
Organize and prioritize them into action steps.
That’s it! It really is THAT simple.
Removing useless information is the first thing that we need to do so we can get all the waste out that's taking up precious mental space. There are some things that we just need to get over and stop thinking about. Either it's not important at this moment, or it’s not important at all. It's only stuck there because you haven't properly put it in its place.
Then, in order to clearly see all of the important thoughts that are running through your mind a million miles a minute, it's helpful to put pen to paper. That's right, a good old-fashioned brain dump. As you're writing, your brain will continue to race, but, having to physically write will slow you down enough to process each thought.
Side note: at night when I can't fall asleep, I will write down my thoughts on a notepad that sits on my nightstand. Once I get all of that down and out, I feel better knowing precious ideas aren’t lost - if they have something to do with my business. Or those regular to-do thoughts are at least down, out, and set aside until tomorrow. And golly, let me tell you, I always pass out almost immediately after doing a brain dump in bed.
The third step is sometimes where too much time can be wasted, but just be patient (give yourself time to process) and look for certain priority flags. An example of a priority flag is a hard deadline, like a due date. Those things should definitely fall at the top of your priority list. Most importantly, don't get hung up on having a perfectly ordered priority list. And, don't make your priority list insanely long. It should be no more than three to five items, so you can knock things off in bite-sized chunks.
Pro Tip: I actually have a Google doc titled My Forever Long To-Do list, haha, seriously. I did that on purpose because I’m realistic, I know my to-do list will never get down to zero. So I dump everything there and then break it down into sprints, 3 to 5 to-do’s at a time.
Training your brain to notice certain stressors, like the overwhelm of a never-ending to-do list, is a great indicator for you to take a pause. Instead of just pushing forward, trying to stay busy without really knowing what direction you're headed in is unproductive. Take a few minutes, or as long as necessary, to do this three-step process. It's easier when you have someone to do it with because they probe you with deeper questions, but you can totally do this on your own.
The next time you're feeling exhausted by everything that's demanding your immediate attention, take a beat and give your mind space - declutter and organize those thoughts. Do you have some really big goals but not quite sure how to make them happen? Strategy sessions can solve problems, as well as spark ideas and innovation that lead to growth and success.
Maybe right now you feel like you have a lot on your plate and you need a toolkit to help you stay in the game. I get that. Mental performance coaching pours into all areas of life & business and also helps you develop new resilient skills to navigate life's changes. You get exercises like this to help you feel more confident, more focused, and more clear, which ultimately gives you more energy and momentum to do your very very best.
Don't let overwhelm get the best of you.
Oh and, give me a shout (the email kind!). I'd love to hear how this three-step exercise works for you the next time you use it to find your way out of overwhelm. It's based on my mental performance coaching approach that I teach high achievers to help them get clear and take action. So please don't hesitate to share your feedback and experience with a community of goal-getters, just like you!
Be your best when it matters most.