How To Regain Control Over Your Life When It Gets Overwhelming

When things get overwhelming and the number of tasks I need to juggle increases, I like to do a life reset. I organise all my to-dos, check my schedule and find ways to take control over my life

paper memo notes can wait

paper memo notes till noon

In this article I want to share with you some practices that help me manage tasks and stay on top of my schedule.

Through these simple techniques, I am able to regain the sense of ownership over my time and get that clean-slatey feeling you get when starting a new chapter in life.

paper memo notes not later than tomorrow

Human brains are fascinating and sophisticated computational machines that creatively come up with solutions to all sorts of problems.

paper memo notes urgent

With the ever-increasing information load we are exposed to on a daily basis, we need to make sure we don’t use our brains for storing all the information.

This would take up all the mental capacity for creativity, thus, leaving us with less energy for action.

Instead, let’s have a look at how we can create external systems for storing all the important things we need to keep in mind.

 

paper memo notes A Brain Dump

Do A Brain Dump

When you feel overwhelmed with tasks, try brain dumping everything on a piece of paper or in your notes. Think of all the things you promised to other people, little annoying tasks, and upcoming deadlines.

Then look through the tasks and combine them based on different categories. These could be

  • tasks under five minutes
  • errands to run in the city centre
  • projects
  • someday tasks
  • reminders
  • appointments to make

Sorting through the tasks will remove the urgency we may feel when we don’t know what to do first.

Then you can evaluate items on the list based on urgency, priority, impact, and effort.

Here are some prioritisation techniques:

 

paper memo notes Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix – See What’s Important and What’s Urgent

For this technique, you may want to rewrite your tasks on sticky notes for better visualisation. Once you’ve done that, create a grid with two axes: importance and urgency.

This will give you for sections. Sort your tasks based on the following information:

  • Urgent and important. Quench the fire, do these tasks first before they get out of control.
  • Urgent and unimportant. Either remove them or deal with them and then try not to agree to do such tasks in the future.
  • Non-urgent and important. Focus your attention on this section as it will have the most impact on your life. Schedule these in your calendar.
  • Non-urgent and unimportant. Either reevaluate your priorities or delegate these tasks.

 

paper memo notes Effort Matrix

Impact – Effort Matrix

The other option is to sort tasks based on how much energy they require and what the return will be.

Ideally, you want to do the tasks that require least amount of energy and bring the most results. Such tasks will get you started with a momentum to keep on going.

But it’s really the high effort and high impact tasks that will provide the most of the long terms benefits.

Read more about the technique here.

Once you’ve dealt with what’s on your mind, let’s automate some actions. I’m all about saving energy on tasks that recur every once in a while.

That’s why every week I do a weekly life admin day.

 

Life Admin Day – What To Include?

Every Saturday, I schedule in four hours in the morning to stay on top of my life. During this time slot, I finish off little annoying tasks, make appointments, and make plans for the next week.

I’ve noticed that every week I have repeating tasks so I created a list that I follow on my life admin days. Here are some of them:

  • Clear the inbox
  • Check all social media for messages
  • Make appointments
  • Do the brain dump for the next week
  • Check my written notes and to dos
  • Go through my online notes
  • Clear out the desktop
  • Clear out the downloads
  • Loose paper and mail check around the house

Additionally, you can create lists with tasks for around the house chores, ordering food, meal prep, and spa days. If you do these things every week, why not optimize the routine so that we don’t need to think about it again and again.

Once to-dos are taken care of, I move on to self-care.

 

Kate Days Or How I Recharge My Batteries

Recently I came to terms with me being an introvert and requiring some downtime alone. To make sure that I don’t burn out, I’ve implemented Kate Days into my routine.

Relaxing outdoors
Relaxing outdoors

 

They usually take place on Sundays and are filled with activities that I love and that bring me joy. I took this a step further and created a Happy day list which I can refer to when I’m feeling down.

 

Mine includes things like

  • listening to music
  • lighting up some candles
  • getting some flowers
  • drawing
  • taking long walks
  • planning and goal setting
  • eating comfort food

 

These things help me take a pause and rechange. And in case I’m feeling stressed out I can do a couple of activities off the list to feel calm again.

 

De-cluttering My Life Physically and Digitally

Every once in a while I enjoy doing a big de-cluttering of both my place and my digital footprint.

De cluttering day
De cluttering day

I space it out throughout several days. Usually what I reevaluate are

  • Clothes. note which items I made a ton of use out and which ones stayed untouched. Then I either sell them or donate. Alternatively, I sometimes take them to a nearest H&M to recycle.
  • Books. They either stay, get donated or sent to friends as a little “thought of you” note.
  • Spices in the pantry + food in the fridge. Seeing what’s expired and taking notice of what to order.
  • Notes, papers, notebooks. These get either stored or recycled. If there is some information on a loose piece of paper, I might put it the notes app on my computer.
  • Cancelling payments and unsubscribing from email lists.
  • Technology. Doing computer back up or removing apps off my phone.

 

Staying On Top Of My Finances

Keeping track of financial goals may provide the sense of freedom you get when you’re in control of the situation. Through keeping track of the expenses and income streams, I am able to see patterns in my spending trends and plan appropriately.

I tend to keep track of expenses by category:

  • Beauty
  • Bills
  • Housing
  • Clothes and purchases
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Eating out
  • Groceries
  • Gifts
  • Medical care
  • Savings
  • Transportation

 

Something To Read/Watch On A Similar Note

If you are into organization, planning, and getting things done, you will enjoy the following resources.

  • David Allen’s book Getting Things Done
  • MuchelleB, an Australian YouTuber who makes videos on productivity and self-growth
  • Amy Landino, an American YouTuber who talks about time-batching, optimizing your schedule and going after the life you want

I hope that will some of these techniques you will be able to add a bit of clarity into your everyday routine. Remember that it’s ok to say no to things if you are working on achieving a bigger goal.

Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney


Getting motivation to take on these tasks can be tough. But, sometimes you only need a handful of seconds:

How The Five Second Rule Can Change Your Life

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