Where do I start when I'm Overwhelmed?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Real life can be overwhelming sometimes. The laundry baskets are overflowing. The dishes keep piling up in the sink. You don't know what's for dinner. Your schedule is mega booked. You ask yourself these four words: where do I start? 

I want to give you hope in this area because like you, I've been overwhelmed many times before. It is true that it is easier to keep up than to catch up. The problem is, some of us don't have the luxury of keeping up for various reasons. 

The two places to start when you are overwhelmed with house work are: Laundry and Food. Laundry because we need to get dressed. Food because we need to eat for energy and nourishment. You don't want to be overwhelmed, naked and hangry. What an awful combo that would be! Start with Laundry and food my friend. If you can do both at the same time, go for it. 

I created a system that worked for me during those many times I was overwhelmed, which is my 45-minute organization method. I refuse to follow any other method, no matter how well reviewed it may be. I recommend that you find a system that works for you and refuse to follow anything else. The organization method that works is the method you stick with day after day, month after month. 

It is important to start from where you are. So there is no clean underwear in the house? Fine. You can start by washing those very important clothing items. Acceptance will make this journey of getting your life under control much easier. Start from where you are and keep going.  

I also find that getting ahead is great. The other day I cooked for the week and I made some extra food to freeze. I know that food will come in handy when I'm busy and the family is hungry. I also noticed that I had a bunch of clothes that needed to be donated pilled in the corner of my closet. I put them in a bag so all I need to do is take that bag to my charity of choice. Getting ahead is not an all-day project: it can take less than 5 minutes. I try to get ahead on dishes by adding dishwashing liquid in the machine every time I empt it. I try to prep the coffee maker the night before and program it so I smell the coffee when I wake up (it is actually an extra motivator to get out of bed). What are some easy ways you can get ahead?

Let's say that being overwhelmed with house work is not your issue because you're not like me - which is okay and I'm glad everyone is not like me. Let's say you are overwhelmed because you got behind with a new year's goal such as reading your Bible in a year. You also may be overwhelmed because you decided to write your novel this year but something happened and you are behind. Those 4 words apply to you as you ask "where do I start?" Well, the same principles apply:

Start from where you are - go on and read (or write) the next chapter.  

Set 'catch up' goals - when I got late with my Bible in a Year Plan (well, I started late!), I decided to complete the reading for the day and add one more reading at night. After a few weeks I was all caught up with the reading. It is easier to keep up than to catch up so my goal was not to have to catch up again.  

Get ahead if you can - Read (or write) a little bit more if you can. Being proactive works on your behalf and if you have an extremely busy day in the future, you will not feel guilty for missing a day of reading (or writing).

When I was a graduate student, I heard an analogy about being overwhelmed with debt that made a mark in my mind for 12 years. The speaker said that "in order to get out of the hole, you need to stop digging." May I suggest that once we find a process that works for us and we actually get caught up, it is wise to figure out how can we throw that shovel away. In my case, I was not committing enough time to my home work. Whether it was circumstantial or totally my fault, time was the key to throwing my shovel away and getting organized. 

I wonder if you can figure out what your shovel may be. I wonder if you can stop digging and start living the live you really want to live. 

It will take a few steps but you will get there. Remember to be easy on yourself because I too get overwhelmed sometimes and I have to ask myself, where do I start?