One of the themes that’s emerged from the survey I recently sent out is overwhelm.
Specifically, overwhelm with your own ideas—and with all the ideas coming at you each day. And boy, do I hear you. As I shared on Instagram recently, I’ve been having some of those same struggles lately.
I had a slightly different post written for today, leading up to my thoughts about idea overwhelm from a slightly different angle.
But as I was reading over it, I thought, I’m just going to share my thoughts. Keep things simple.
I do need to say one thing first, though.
There’s no simple fix for idea overwhelm. You have to be willing to make some changes in your day-to-day life to calm things down a bit.
So many of us are doing things in a big jumble. We jump from reading emails to scrolling Instagram to client work to half-watching a webinar while we try to sort emails to writing a blog post to listening to a podcast while we sort more emails—and there’s no way that’s not going to lead to a) a million ideas and b) total overwhelm.
The problem? We’re taking in ideas but we’re not always doing something about them.
But I believe that if we are smart about how we approach having, recording, and deciding about ideas, I think we’ll find the overwhelm doesn’t creep in quite as much.
Here are two ways I suggest doing that—things I’m working to either implement or get back to.
1| Write down all that’s on your mind.
I did this last week and it made me feel so much better.
Start with On my mind… and then list out all the things swimming around in your head. Let yourself go as long as you need to (my thoughts were rushing onto the paper like crazy).
Then (and this is just as important) read through the list and decide what action to take on each item. Add it to your to-do list? Put it in a Someday folder that you review once a month? Create a habit out of it? Order a book from the library? Let it go?
There are so many options—which is why our minds feels so overwhelmed. When we don’t write these things down and then make conscious decisions about them, we’re unconsciously trying to choose between all those options inside our heads…for all the different ideas floating around.
No wonder we feel overwhelmed.
So even though stopping may feel counterproductive, try this out within the next week or so. It helped me so much, and I think it could really help you, too.
If this works for you, try doing it on a regular basis—like at the end of each day or week. Play around with the right timing for you; it should feel like a relief, not a chore.
2| Read through all your email newsletters at one time.
For the next few days, instead of reading through all your newsletters as they come into your inbox (or, let’s be honest, when you have a free moment between tasks or you’re avoiding doing something you don’t want to do—both things that happen to me far too often), try putting them all in one folder.
Then set aside a little time to read through them all at once, with a notebook by your side. As you read each email, take notes about anything that catches your attention or sparks something for you. Then, when you’ve gone through all the emails on the list, look through your notes and decide what to do about each item.
Do you want to add an item to your to-do list? Email a link to a friend? Pick up a book the next time you’re at your favorite bookstore? Keep something for future reference?
Once you’re done, do your best to release everything else you’ve read. If it wasn’t right for you right now, no problem—but you don’t want it taking up space in your mind, either!
If you like this process, try setting aside this kind of time regularly, like once or twice a week. Play around with the right timing for you. Don’t feel you need to do it every day unless that just works for you!
I know it’s easy for me to make this list and much harder for you to truly set aside the time and make these things happen once, much less regularly.
I know because I try to do these things myself and I don’t always succeed.
So here’s what I suggest. Schedule time to do each of those tactics just once. Don’t decide right now that you’ll do these things for the rest of your life. (That never works for me.)
Just commit to trying out each tactic one time.
Then if it works once, schedule another time to do it. And so on. If something doesn’t work, you can stop any time. But if these strategies do work for you, you can slowly build in regular time to make them happen!
. . . . .
I want to say thank you to everyone who responded to the survey I sent out recently.
Your feedback has been so useful, interesting, and in some ways, humbling. It’s easy to get caught up in my own version of what you want and need, based on what I see and hear from you as well as on my own experiences. But while a lot of my ideas were right on track, you also surprised me in many ways—which I’m truly excited about!
I want to spend my time doing things that are meaningful for both of us (that’s you as well as me), so if you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it.
Thank you again!
With much love,
P.S. Overwhelm is a type of being stuck. You’re not sure how to move forward, and you’re not sure what to do about…well, not being sure how to move forward. I’ve created something to help take the pressure off of you when you do (inevitably) find yourself stuck. You can learn more about this self-paced guide to awareness and action right here!