What Can I Do Right Now?

Like many people, I can get stressed and overwhelmed. This is fairly common, I suspect, in many jobs because so many roles are about juggling and organizing multiple thoughts and priorities and tasks all at once. When it gets to be too much, I get what I call, task overloaded.

I have tried to teach myself techniques to handle being stressed like this. When I get overwhelmed, I stop, take a breath, maybe look at a blank wall, and start thinking.

OK, I’m really busy and stressed and overwhelmed. But, at this exact moment in time right now, what can I do? What is the most effective and valuable thing I can do right now?

Sometimes the answer may surprise you…sometimes it is, “Stop everything you are doing, get out a piece of paper, and just write down a todo list.” Just getting everything organized is helpful because first of all, it prevents you from having to store all the information in your head at one moment. If you’ve written everything down then you can not worry about forgetting something because you can just come back to the list later.

The other way that writing everything down can help, or you might even be able to do this mentally, is that you can see your priorities in front of you. Sure, there may be multiple projects in flight, several meetings coming up, lots of emails to read, but maybe at that exact moment there’s a deliverable due at the end of the day and those meetings aren’t until next week. So at this precise moment in time, don’t worry about next week’s meetings, work on that deliverable due at 5 pm.

This is especially helpful when I’m stressed as part of my work/life balance. If I’m trying to sleep at night, or making dinner for my kids, or exercising, I can get stressed if I think about work. But I can say to myself, “At this exact moment in time, the most valuable thing I can do is get a good night’s sleep/take care of my kids/take care of my health, and in the long run that is useful for my job.” Just having this mental litany can help handle the stress.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and become paralyzed with indecision about what to do next. Using these simple tips might help you find a way to break through and become productive again.

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