Ever feel like business, life, the universe and everything is just one giant, uphill battle pushing a wet noodle? It happens. For me, it usually happens all at once. Work explodes at the same time as family stuff comes up during the crunch time for the volunteer committee. And let’s not even talk about the state of the house (a Domestic Goddess I am not).
When it does happen, your first instinct, your immediate compulsion, is to try to fight it, to run around putting out fire after fire after blazing fire, trying to bring insanity back into order, or at least some semblance of order. Usually you end up driving yourself insane and at best, you only manage a half-assed job of handling the chaos (and really, chaos, if it is to be managed, at the very least deserves your whole-ass worth of attention).
This is when it’s time to say, “I give up!” Let the mess build up on your desk, cancel meetings and appointments, ditch out of that organizing committee, call in sick on saving the world for this week, and put off that new client until things settle down. It’s okay to admit that you just can’t do it all and here’s why:
#1: Forces you to quickly re-prioritize to the absolute essentials. Laundry? Not on the radar until you need to break out the weird clothes that you hide at the back of the closet (and even then, you could say you are celebrating the 80′s this week). Committees? Sorry, but they’ll just have to decide what to serve as refreshments at the next fundraiser without your input.
#2: Saves you from what is guaranteed to be the fast-track to burnout. When it’s coming at you from all sides, the last thing you want to do is put up a fight. Stop struggling and just let happen what’s going to happen. Control what’s absolutely important and worry about the rest later.
#3: Shows your support people that you need help. Kids reluctant to pitch in around the house? Try telling them that you just can’t do it until this period of insanity passes. Need your team to step up with creative problem-solving? Stop doing it for them and just trust that they will carry out your vision without you constantly looking over their shoulders.
#4: Lets your creative problem-solving juices flow. No doubt the mom who made a mint off of the baby crawling floor duster was in crisis mode and looking for a creative way to get her floors clean. Okay, perhaps not, but being in the thick of it, you can’t see beyond what’s immediately in front of you. Surrendering let’s you step back and gain a bit of perspective on the entire situation.
#5: Establishes a plan for how to operate in crisis mode. Let’s face it — life isn’t going to cooperate all the time and it’s likely that this is going to happen again. Getting in the habit of shifting into survival mode will help you in the event that the shit really hits the fan and you need to suddenly drop everything to handle it.
In a perfect world, we would never get so exhausted that we can barely muster enough brain power to decide what to have for breakfast, much less put in a productive day at the office.
But working from home while raising a family isn’t a perfect world and we do have those days when a teething child keeps you up all night or idea overload has you stirring every hour that you may as well have not been sleeping.
It happens and when it does, that’s when you need to put yourself on autopilot (or back to bed depending on how flexible your deadlines are). That means taking as much of the ‘deciding’ out of your workday as possible.
How to Create an Autopilot Routine to Get Through Overwhelm
#1: Make Your Calendar the Boss – Let’s face it – if left to your own tired devices, you would likely stare blankly at the screen trying to figure out what to do. Make your calendar the boss of you and just follow its directions. That means you need to be on top of planning your activities in your calendar. Include as many details as possible: meetings (with telephone numbers and discussion topic outline), project work blocks, deadlines, etc.
#2: Simplify Down to the Bare Essentials – Don’t try to put in an epic productive day at the office. The purpose is to survive the day getting enough done that you won’t wake up tomorrow with a thousand new fires to fight because of what you missed today. Take a critical look at your to-do list (the one you made the night before) and cross off whatever can wait.
#3: Tackle the Tough Stuff First – Chances are you are running on borrowed time and unless a serious amount of caffeine is involved, you are going to crash by the afternoon. Tackle the tough must-do tasks first and get them over with so if you run out of steam by lunch, you can pack it in early and start fresh tomorrow.
#4: Keep a Laundry List of Easy Stuff – If you make it beyond lunch, you need to give yourself a break and tackle easy stuff. That’s where your laundry list of to-do’s comes in. Keep a running list of things on your “Tackle Whenever” list for when you finish all your tasks for the day (or in this case, when you have no energy to do anything complicated).
#5: Always Be Prepared – How you prepare for those times when you hit the wall or an overwhelming workload pushes you into overload depends entirely on your business. It may mean having an archive of pre-written blog posts or a series of checklists to step you through your tasks when your brain goes on vacation without you. Whatever it is, it’s worth the time to prepare in advance!
Mommy Mojo: Suffering from the Mom Triple Threat? Overcoming Being Overworked, Overtired and Overwhelmed
Listen to any mother and she will likely describe herself with what I call the big 3 O’s: Overworked, Overtired and Overwhelmed!
When we are bouncing from activity to activity, switching hats from mom duty to household manager to savvy businesswoman, it is easy to feel overspent and overstretched. No matter how much we, moms, pride ourselves on juggling and multi-tasking, there comes a point when we need to pause, take stock and overcome overwhelm.
You may ask, why does this matter now? Summer was a welcome break from many of the duties that push us into overwhelm. But with September just around the corner, soon enough you will be coordinating new calendars, adjusting your children to new classes, and integrating their extra-curricular to your life-work schedule.
Before long, you may find yourself quickly sliding back into the old 3 O’s.
How to Overcome the Dangerous Mom Triple Threat
When you are experiencing one or all three O’s, you are more likely putting your stuff, like your goals and projects, business ideas, self-care, on the back burner. You may lose focus, drop commitments, or even give-up on that infinitely growing to-do list.
#1: Simplify – Set only three key goals for the entire week. Write only 2 to 3 to do’s each day. What are the top 2 items that will give you a sense of ‘victory’ if you got them done today?
#2: Stick to Self-care – As soon as we go into overwhelming times, we tend to drop our support lines. The ‘I can do it alone’ mindset often brings out the mother-as-martyr archetype, leaving you feeling bitter, resentful, and sacrificial. If you are engaged in a support group, therapy, coaching or counseling, do not drop out or let it go. Stick with it to help you navigate overwhelming times.
#3: State It – Let others in. Tell your children and husband exactly how it feels. Caution: no blaming here, just simply stating what you are feeling. Then state your needs with clear and specific terms. Ask for their collaboration at this challenging time. Husbands and children are more eager to collaborate when they are actively participating in brainstorming, problem solving, and solution seeking conversations.