I have spent most of this month completely overwhelmed and it’s completely my fault.

I came into 2018 with a plan.

I know that I am at my best when I am laser focused on a goal. So this year I planned to set just 4 major writing, blogging, and business goals (in addition to a few personal goals) and I would work on one per quarter.

But the excitement of the New Year went coursing through my veins and settled into my bones and I LOST MY MIND. I decided I would do ALL THE THINGS all at once.

I decided that this month I wouldn’t just focus on finishing my book as I had originally planned, but I would also publish a new blog post 5 days a week, pitch story ideas to publications every week, and run a special to increase See Jane Write membership. And this is on top of teaching full-time, freelancing part-time, meeting with coaching clients, creating content and events for See Jane Write members, training for a marathon, preparing for my TED Talk, and trying to be a decent wife.

Needless to say, this plan failed. After a couple of nervous breakdowns and a chat with my therapist I came to my senses and returned to Plan A. I will work on one major goal per quarter. I will not worry about moving too slowly or being left behind by other writers and bloggers. This is not a competition. This is my life.

As much as I love Wonder Woman, I am not superhuman like she is.

I can do it all, but not all at once.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, perhaps focusing on one goal at a time would be a good approach for you, too.

I have to be honest. Even after returning to Plan A I am still stressed because I still have A LOT to do. But I have taken some steps to stave off more panic attacks.

Adjust self-imposed deadlines. I had set a deadline for myself for completing my book and I realized that every time I thought about all I had to do in such a short period of time I would just start crying. So I simply changed the deadline.

Break big projects into small steps. Next, I wrote down everything that needed to be done for me to get my book sent off to the publisher. Now, these steps are no longer throwing temper tantrums in my head, but are on paper and thus feel a lot more manageable. I did the same thing with everything else I have going on — my freelance writing assignments, my TED Talk, etc.

Give yourself a break. A couple years ago I started making sure I took at least one day off each week. I would have at least one day in which I would do no work for my teaching job, my blog, or my business. But I haven’t given myself a day off this entire month. This means I haven’t had a day off since 2017. My hope is to change that this weekend.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? 

16 Comments on How to Handle Overwhelm

  1. Kwoya
    January 23, 2018 at 7:38 pm (1 month ago)

    ❤️ This is timely. Thank you.

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 24, 2018 at 4:52 am (1 month ago)

      Glad I could help!

      Reply
  2. Gabrielle
    January 23, 2018 at 9:45 pm (1 month ago)

    Got a website launch on Valentine’s Day and a presentation that weekend! Feeling the overwhelm already. Going to get a timeline together for presentation. My web developer already has timeline for website

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 24, 2018 at 4:53 am (1 month ago)

      Yes, break down the presentation into smaller steps and just work on it a bit each day.

      Reply
  3. Karin
    January 24, 2018 at 4:38 am (1 month ago)

    this is very helpful thanks – I think it’s a good idea to re-evaluate self-imposed deadlines as they are meant to be inspiring not stressful! Yoga helps me to re-balance or a lengthy dog walk (but then I’m 52 so maybe when I was younger I’d do sports :))

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 24, 2018 at 4:53 am (1 month ago)

      I do yoga and I run as well. Movement definitely helps!

      Reply
  4. Trish
    January 24, 2018 at 2:13 pm (1 month ago)

    Great advice – making my timeline right now!

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 24, 2018 at 5:19 pm (1 month ago)

      I’m so glad you found this helpful. Thanks for reading and good luck with all your goals!

      Reply
  5. Dee S. Knight
    January 24, 2018 at 9:18 pm (1 month ago)

    Great advice! Years ago, I got behind on a business-related task for my own business–something I never had done when I worked for someone else. The more behind I got the harder it was to sit down and do the work. Finally I confessed (through a veil of tears) to my husband that I felt like such a failure for not keeping up with the work and now catching up was hopeless. He said (brilliantly, I thought) that I didn’t have to catch all of the work up at once, I just should try to do one day’s worth. Why hadn’t I thought of that?? I found that working on one day led into the next and so on, and before a week had passed I was caught up.

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 31, 2018 at 9:35 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Such excellent advice! One day at a time we can do this!

      Reply
  6. Lisa
    January 24, 2018 at 9:42 pm (1 month ago)

    During the holidays, I kept remarking how tired I was. Not so much physically, but mentally. And, I didn’t see an end in sight because I knew once my editor got my book back to me, I had to get cracking. Well, a few days into the new year, my Daddy passed away. And I slept off and on for days. And I’m still lying down to a nap whenever the urge hits. I’m giving my body and brain rest whenever they need. Although I already have a conference event scheduled for April, where I’d planned to launch my book. And I have no venue, my speaker hasn’t given a firm yes…oh, and the book isn’t done.

    My therapist is still in Chicago and I live in FL now, so I haven’t seen her. But I tried to think through how she would advise me. She’d be kind, but firm. And she’d likely tell me to do what you’re doing. And last week, I did. I decided that if I don’t release my book at that event, the world won’t end. I refuse to strive and be overwhelmed this year… Or, at least this month. 🙂

    Longest comment ever, but I wanted you to know I’m right here with ya.

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 31, 2018 at 9:33 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Lisa, I am so sorry to hear about your father. My heart breaks for you. But I applaud you for allowing yourself time to rest. I had a death in the family right before Christmas and lost another family member very unexpectedly this month. Just like you, I was working on a book that I was trying to get ready for an event and like you, I had to just decide that it wasn’t going to be ready then and that that was OK. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

      Reply
  7. T.K. Thorne
    January 26, 2018 at 12:50 am (4 weeks ago)

    Good heavens, this is indeed timely, J. I thought being retired would be scary because I am so used to being overwhelmed (weird, I know) but we can put that worry to bed. My plate is flowing over! Yes, focusing on one thing at a time is the way to go, even if it is in segments. And turning off email while writing is one trick I want to employ.

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 31, 2018 at 9:26 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Yes, I need to turn off email when I write, too. Good idea!

      Reply
  8. Harriette Thompkins
    January 28, 2018 at 10:20 pm (4 weeks ago)

    This is extremely helpful! I’ve experienced overwhelm, too!

    Reply
    • javacia
      January 31, 2018 at 9:26 pm (3 weeks ago)

      I’m so glad this could help.

      Reply

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