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5 Steps to Get Back on Top of Things When Life is Busy

Do you feel like you’ve got way too much to do, and not enough time to do it in?

Perhaps you find yourself getting upset, angry or despondent at times, feeling as though life is spiraling out of your control. It’s not a good state to be in – and you know that. But breaking away from those panicked feelings can be tough.
Here’s a few simple steps that can help you get back on top of things.
#1: Take a Quick Time-Out
It’s important to take a few minutes to breathe and focus. If you’re in the middle of a stressful situation – perhaps the house is a complete mess, or work is a huge, chaotic rush – then it’s hard to get any perspective.
Go for a quick walk, grab a shower, or just sit still with your eyes closed for a few minutes. Give yourself a chance to calm down, before you start trying to plan.
#2: Make a List
Once you’re feeling calmer, grab a piece of paper, or open up a document on your computer, and make a list of everything that you think you need to get done. If something’s on your mind, put it down – however big or small.
Your list may well have some urgent items (“clean kitchen before mother-in-law visits tomorrow”) and some which are more long-term, but important (“lose 50lbs and get fitter”).
Once you’ve got everything out of your head and onto paper, you’ll feel a lot better. Hopefully, you’ll already be able to see some items that can wait a while and others that can be checked off quickly. You might even want to start sorting or prioritizing your list, to make the next couple of steps easier.
#3: Start With Small Wins
Obviously, making a list isn’t going to get you far. (As a kid, did you ever make an elaborate, color-coded study plan for your exams? Did you actually stick to it?)
You need to start taking action – and a great place to begin is by tackling any “small wins” – simple, quick tasks that you can do straight away. They might not be especially important, but by doing them, you’ll start to build up a sense of momentum.
Small wins are especially powerful when they relate to tasks that you’ve been putting off – a phone call, perhaps, or sending off a letter.
#4: Ditch, Delegate, Delay
If your list still looks overwhelming, then it’s time to get rid of some tasks.
Can you ditch anything? Perhaps you don’t really need fresh-baked cookies for when your parents visit – you could just buy a packet from the store.
Can you delegate anything? If you’re overloaded at work, can you get a colleague to take over a few tasks? If you’re the one who does all the housework at home, how about assigning specific chores to your partner or kids?
Can you delay anything? If you’re rushing to get everything done before you head off on vacation, can you put off some things until you get back?
#5: Take Care of Your Health
Finally, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, it’s especially important to take care of your health. You know all the basics:

• Eat sensibly – don’t skip meals because you’re “too busy”, or grab junk food.
• Exercise regularly – even a 20-minute brisk walk every day can make a huge difference.
• Get enough sleep – cutting back won’t make you more productive, as you’ll end up slowing down during the day
If you get sick, you’re going to find it even harder to get things done – so make sure that your health is a priority.
What tips do you have for dealing with overwhelm? How do you get back on top of things when life is hectic?

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14 Responses to 5 Steps to Get Back on Top of Things When Life is Busy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great list!

    For me, making a list works in most cases. It orders my mind and that makes it more quiet and give me also the possibility to prioritize my important things to do

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great list!

    For me, making a list works in most cases. It orders my mind and that makes it more quiet and give me also the possibility to prioritize my important things to do

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are best i really like your post keep it up  
    Cong ty bao ve

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s great to know, its a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.
    Bao ve

  5. This list is actually really comprehensive, it’s ease of reading disguises that fact. 

    A list is used as an organisational tool. However I would hesitate to use it to make myself feel better or relaxed, because I came across a site today that describes a list as “filling up your guilt bag”

  6. Clint Cora says:

    Sometimes if I’m overwhelmed with a lot of stuff, I physically relocate myself to the library in a private study room if possible where distractions are minimal.  This is where I can really work with much more productivity.  There are no windows to look out at, no pictures on the walls, no phones (I don’t bring one) and the wifi sucks so I don’t play with email.  I find that such a change in location really helps me get back on track.

  7. Sean says:

    Staying healthy has been the biggest productivity boost for me. When I’m taking care of my health it just becomes so much easier to accomplish everything else. It just seems more clear.

  8. Stephen Borgman says:

    Ali, I’ve been working my way through the Power of Less, by Leo Babauta.  He is in agreement with your idea of writing a list and starting small.  I’ve been working on just writing down my 3 MIT’s (most important tasks) prior to the start of the next day.  Then I work on Focusing on those tasks.  The other stuff falls into place, because I know I’m getting the most important things done.

  9. Fred Tracy says:

    This is a great article.My favorite is #5. We absolutely must keep our health in order. It’s amazing what a good breakfast is an exercise will do for us. I think more of our happiness is due to our body and chemical reactions being in a good state than even our thoughts and actions.

    Stress sucks!

  10. Justin says:

    There are times when I need to get things done but simply don’t “have it” at the moment.

    I usually eat something and chill out for an hour to distract myself. This does the trick for me.

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