Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Steps to Get a Grip When You're Overwhelmed

Stepping back into my life after a long vacation was a bit overwhelming. All of the work, responsibilities, and basic "stuff" was just waiting for my return. How to get a handle on it? Here's what I did:
  1. Get a good night's sleep and forget about everything until the morning. I work much better in the morning after a good night's sleep. I am practically useless by evening time. Some people are just the opposite but for me, mornings are when I do my best work.
  2. Clean the house and do laundry. I can't function well when my "inner circle" area, namely my home, is a mess. It clouds my thinking and adds to the weight of stuff that I feel is overwhelming me.
  3. Gather and organize all of the "incoming" stuff. This includes going through all of the mail, email, phone messages, etc. Tossing out the junk and sorting stuff into "respond now" and "later" piles.
  4. Make my office "grand central". Depending on the amount of stuff I have to do, my desk and sometimes the entire floor may be covered with piles of stuff to do.
  5. Organize piles and lists. List #1 is a list of stuff to buy (laundry soap, for example, which I noticed we were almost out of when I did laundry. The list gets longer as I go through my piles), list #2 is a list of errands to do (pick up birthday cake for friend, drop off outgoing mail, etc), list #3 is phone calls to make, pile #1 may be things that can be done quickly (write letter for X), pile #2 may be longer term things (write report on X), and pile #3 are things that will take a half day or more of concerted effort to complete.
  6. Start to work on each list then pile. List #1 is on the desk ready to go with me when I leave, I review list #2 to see if there is anything that I need to get ready when I leave to do errands (ie: if it says pay bills, I need to get the bill, write the check, and make sure the envelope has a stamp on it), I then sit down and call everyone on list #3, and depending on the time, do everything that needs to be done in pile #1. I usually save pile #2 for the next morning when I can focus on working specifically on whittling down the pile, then schedule blocks of time to do things in pile #3.
  7. The next day, after I get a lot of things done, I can usually merge all of the lists into one to include leftover errands, messages to return, and things to buy.
  8. The next day, I also try to block out time to finish up everything in pile #1 and pile #2.
  9. By the following day, I usually have the bigger projects left so I try to set aside a day or even a half day to hammer away on these projects.
  10. Reward myself for my diligent effort with a frapuccino from Starbucks!


  1. Just came across your blog on Monday and love what you do. I read every post and enjoyed everyone of them.

    Monday I paid off my last credit card and it felt really good. At the first of the year I decided to payoff 7 credit cards totaling over $10,000.00 and on Monday I finished my goal.

    I have been using cash-only for over 8 months and it feels really good. I also cut up every card and closed them out.

    In January I turned off my house phone and cable. I watch all my favorite shows on the internet and I have not missed one show. My cable and phone totaled $80.00 per month and that was just too much. I have a cable device that connects the computer to the TV and that allows me to watch the internet on my TV.

    In January I also signed up for a personal financial management class at my local community college that changed my life. It was the best investment I have every made. The class only cost $60, one night a week for 14 weeks. The professor really cared about her student and our financial future. I learned how to payoff debt, fund my emergency fund, retirement fund, taxes, etc. It was the best class I have ever taken. Because of that class I have been motivated to continue with more business and psychology classes. My professor encourage all her students to take a psychology class because understanding money is all psychological.

    So you keep doing what you are doing and continue motivating us. Thank you for this blog.

    It feels good to have the banksters (credit card companies) off my back and their hands out of my bank account.

  2. Wow! Great job! I am so happy when I hear that other people are getting out of debt and getting control of their money. If everyone did this we would have less economic (and social!) problems. Way to go!!!