Anyone else FEELING the overwhelm these past few weeks?
It happens to me every year when the kids go back to school and clubs start back up. The life admin steps up a notch! But this year, because so much of my mental capacity is being used up with things like remembering to take a mask everywhere, keeping up with the news and deciphering the changing government guidelines, it doesn’t leave a lot of space for…. well anything else!
This week, as well as buying the PE t-shirt I forgot to get and new dance shoes because my child keeps growing, I needed to cancel school dinners and pack her forest school kit. Then there’s the everyday tasks – book a GP appointment, buy two birthday cards, buy new bras and book myself into that popular gym class before it fills up. So, if like me, your head feels like it might pop, here’s some advice…
- Make a list
I love a list. I have a rolling To Do list on my phone Notes app, and tick items off as I achieve them. Having it on my phone means I can add to it when I’m walking my daughter to school, and suddenly remember something that needs to be done.
Psychologist Dr David Cohen says that lists work for three reasons: they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month.
And yes, I’m guilty of adding something to my To Do list that I have already done, just so I can tick it off. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!
2. Work out what can be dropped from that list
Hang on. We’ve just made a list and now we need to delete stuff from it? YES! There’s a good chance not everything needs to be done, so decide which are the things that absolutely must be done.
Booking a GP appointment is important, and shouldn’t be dropped, but will the world end if I don’t buy new bras this week?
3. Prioritise stuff
Once you’ve deleted some stuff, prioritise the rest. Anything that is costing me money (cancelling my Audible subscription, cancelling school dinners…) is top of my list and anything that affects my health is up there too.
Life coach Chris Freeman has a top tip on how to prioritise your list: “Break the list into two, one for tasks with an end date and the second with those that do not. Prioritise the one thing from each list which should be done next.”
Is there anything on the list that you can ask someone else to do? The other day, as I walked along, I texted my To Do list to Mr P and he immediately responded, telling me which of the things he would look after. It instantly made me feel less anxious about my list, which had halved in size. Not everyone feels they have someone they can delegate to but if you do, use them!
Better still, use author Eve Rodsky’s method which gets each partner to take complete ownership of separate tasks, just as people in a workplace divide duties. “Men hate being nagged, and women hate holding everything in their brain,” she says. “Ownership eliminates those things.”
5. Don’t worry about stuff that doesn’t get done
You’re not super human, you’re busy, you’re doing the best you can. I try really hard not to beat myself up if I don’t get through my To Do list by the end of the day/week.
I regularly just move tasks from one day to the next, and sometimes the same tasks move on a day several times.
It’s OK! It’ll get done eventually…