How to manage time when you’re feeling overwhelmed

When you’re the one people rely on, when you’re the primary caregiver or the go-to person with “institutional knowledge,” you’re more likely to feel overloaded, exhausted, and depleted. And, if what worked before (years ago or last year) is no longer working now, you’re not alone.

Not wanting to add any more to your plate, I’ll just dive in and share tips that worked for both my coaching clients and me. I’ll add links to other articles in case you want to read more.

Five steps to manage time when feeling overwhelemed

First, acknowledge

While this doesn’t seem necessary and your first instinct is to push through, it’s actually helpful to name what you’re feeling. Simply saying,…

  • “This is a lot. I’m feeling overloaded.”
  • “I’m so angry that all of this is falling on my shoulders.”
  • Or, “I’m annoyed with myself for taking this on.”

Second, set a timer for 5 minutes and ask yourself some questions

Take just a brief moment, you may not even need 5 minutes, to shift your mindset with one or two of the following questions. Pick the one that most resonates with you

  • What is the right thing for me to do right now?
  • What is absolutely essential? And, what is not?
  • What are the three most important tasks for just today?

It helps jot down your answers, but it isn’t necessary. It also helps if you can make a separate list of what you are going to drop/cancel, delegate or hand-off, or postpone.

Third, reset the timer for another 5 minutes to make important connections

Again, you may not need the full 5 minutes, but reflect on your answers in the second step and see if you can connect the task at hand to something that you have that others do not.

But, rather than feel guilty, make it a statement of gratitude.

For example, if the task at hand is related to an assignment that your boss gave you, say, “Even though I don’t like my job, I am grateful to have one when others are unemployed.”

If the task is related to housework, say “I am thankful to have a home when others are homeless.”

And, if what you need to do is take care of a sick child, say, “I am blessed with a child when some struggle with infertility.”

Fourth, take a breath

Breathe in and out through your nose.

Fifth, give yourself a gentle pep talk

Call out your own name, then try out one of the following…

  • To boost your confidence: “You’ve been through challenges before, you can get through this one too.”
  • To get over perfectionism: “You earned the right to aim for good enough.”
  • To get over impostor syndrome: “Everyone feels like an imposter. You got this. Focus on process not on outcomes.”
  • When you have trouble asking fo help, “You’ve been so helpful. Make someone feel honored by asking for their help.”

Your turn

What worked for you in the past to manage time when feeling overwhelmed? Let me know!