I WANNA HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS

Remember when people used to use their blog as a way a journaling their thoughts? Some still do and I really admire that. I am hoping that I can release some thoughts through this post. Sometimes communicating and just putting it out there helps you feel better…At least it does for me now and then.

I woke up today feeling quite overwhelmed. A great way to start the week, eh? I am sure you are familiar with that “where do I EVEN start?” feeling. I want to be completely transparent and say that I overcommitted myself. Have you done that recently? I committed to completing 3 custom website design projects, preparing for a speaking engagement, holding a workshop, on-boarding 2 new employees/partners (which I’m stoked out of my mind about), and concepting a new idea for our church’s Women’s Ministry all by the end of October! Praying that I can prioritize appropriately and get it all done. So, I ask you…what is your advice for when you’re feeling overwhelmed? How do you manage?

Avatar of Promise Tangeman
Posted by

52 Comments

Like

  1. Robyn

    I always go for a run, go to the gym, do yoga, or do something to break a sweat. It immediately clears my mind and allows me to focus and prioritize. Being an art student as you were, I’m sure we can both agree that time management is a key ingredient to being successful. I also find myself writing a lot of things down about how my week is going to go. Simply getting everything I have to do on paper helps me a lot. When it’s all in my head, it hurts. When it’s on paper, it allows me to visualize and map out what and when I’m going to do for the next little while. Hope this helps and good luck!!

    Reply
  2. Anna

    omg…Promise, I’m so there with you! I laid awake all night thinking about everything that needs to be done for my wedding in two and a half weeks…and have hit a point where I can’t sleep but because I can’t sleep I can’t get anything done the next day! So I get all stressed out in the afternoons and then whether I can afford to or not, end up taking a nap. And then I feel better. That’s probably the worst advice ever, but I guess I’m a believer in listening to your body and being productive when you can be and allowing yourself to rest when you can’t go any more…it sounds counter productive, but most days it works for me!

    Reply
  3. Jane

    First, I always step back and take a deep breath first. I get so caught up in completing the tasks at hand that sometimes I miss the big picture.

    Next, I would map out each task throughout the month creating daily tasks and check points along the way – that way you won’t be caught off guard (or allow yourself to procrastinate) on anything!

    Good luck!

    Reply
  4. Mailinh

    I’m there with you, Promise! First, take a step back and breathe. After that, timeline a to-do list. I’m a huge to-list person, so this helps me a lot. And I know that what you named in your post as your current projects are all priority, but just think about what can be done first, next, and last. Give them different priority rankings. This way you don’t feel like they’re tackling you all at once. I hope this helps. Breathe easy. As my colleague says, “less stress is best.” xx

    Reply
  5. Lindsey

    Same here. I think I’ve spent more time today thinking about all of the things I have to complete, than actually doing anything :) I’m going to get up and go exercise, try and not think about work, then get back to it this evening. Exercise and prayer are my go-to when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’ll say a prayer that you’re able to get all of those things completed and enjoy doing so, rather than feeling overwhelmed.

    Reply
  6. Laura

    Lately, what I do when I get overwhelmed is get a migraine. Ha! So what I’ve started to do is just remind myself how none of it REALLY matters. In the grand scheme of life, tomorrow comes and then goes, people get upset but then move on, and in the rare occasion where I find that my best is just not enough to get the job done…well what more can I do?

    And when all that pep talking doesn’t help, I listen to “come to me” by Bethel Live (even though I’m not much of a “worship music as recreational music” kind of person) or some good ‘ol Bon Iver to soothe the atmosphere.

    Then I take them one at a time in order of priority! I make lists too, and sometimes put every task on a sticky and lay them all out so I can grasp it all visually and crumple them up as I complete them. :D

    Reply
  7. tiffany

    first i eat ice cream because the world is just easier after ice cream ;) then I pray and let God know that I am overwhelming and need his help and somehow it always gets done because God never gives up more than we can handle ;) i trust in that fact, remain thankful for everything i have already finished and work as hard as i can to get the rest done.

    Reply
  8. Krysta

    Yep. I’m with most of the ladies here … I go for a run, treat myself to something yummy and start making a list of what actually has to get done. More often than not, I get overwhelmed because I’m trying to juggle too many things in my head. When I get it out on paper, it seems more manageable and I can set clear expectations for when everything can actually get done. Running. Chocolate. Lists. Repeat.

    Reply
  9. Kristie

    Lists! I make so many lists, and once I can visualize everything on paper (and physically cross them off too) things seem like they can actually happen! :)

    Reply
  10. amylee

    I do a few different things, depending on “how” I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I just get the heck outta dodge. I go on a long drive, and organize all my thoughts, and come back a few hours later with a fresh perspective. Sometimes I sit down and make a list of all the things that are overwhelming me, and why. This really helps, because I usually find that procrastination, and biting off more than I can chew are the reasons I get overwhelmed. Sometimes, I just turn on Pandora, and dance with my kids for an hour, to get all the “hyper” out of my system, and then sit down to work.

    Reply
  11. Bianca

    I agree with all the above commenters about exercise first. It will either take your mind off of the stress and boost your endorphins OR you will have some me time to really focus on what you need to get done.

    Then make super simple lists. Make one big list for the whole week. Then pick the three-five things you can absolutely get done today. What are the three-five things you can get done tomorrow? Do this everyday.

    Reply
  12. Jessica Brillinger

    “Try not to worry about it.” – worst, most insensitive advice ever right?

    Would your opinion change if it were packaged like this instead:

    Do not worry about anything. Pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray always give thanks. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Thankfully God gave us these instructions in Philippians 4:6-7

    Thankfully because it works! Try it!! And because you are going to need your heart and mind to do all you have to do right? Thank God!!!

    Ps I was only interrupted 4 times while trying to type this up and one of those times I found myself thinking…I can’t afford that! But I need it. What if I just buy it anyway? What if I… and then I heard the words from above and prayed Lord you know what I need! I trust you to provide. Thank you for being my provision! Amen.

    Reply
  13. Maddie

    I go for a jog, and while jogging I give each individual overwhelming task over to the Lord. “God I trust you with ______, God I give this ______ to you,” etc. It is a freeing feeling giving each task over to Him! It is awesome to know that He controls all things, and doesn’t want us to worry about it one bit. Then I come back, prioritize, and plan the big picture!

    Reply
  14. Dana @ My Little Celebration

    For starters, listen to this awesome breakfast mix playlist from turntablekitchen – it’s totally rad and makes the work aspect of “work” much more enjoyable. http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2012/09/september-2012-breakfast-mix/

    Second, prioritize. I once called my mom crying in college because I had too many things to do in 24 hours and couldn’t process it all. She said, “calm down honey, just write a list.” Prioritizing what you have to do and then making a plan of attack will make you feel much more in control and naturally, less stressed.

    Third, if there’s one thing you can put off until say, November 3, ask the person if that’s OK. If not, buckle down, drink some coffee and bust it out! Then, treat yo’self to a little mini vacay, impromptu pedicure or froyo date (whatever you prefer), to reward yourself for being a straight up work killer.

    Hope that helps! Prayers zooming your way,
    Dana

    Reply
  15. amber

    1. Prioritize. What absolutely has to get done first? Consider that “urgent” tasks will often differ from “important” tasks.
    2. Eliminate. What can wait? Can you negotiate any later delivery times? Sometimes you have to say no to even good things.
    3. Delegate. Can you outsource a project or have someone take part of it off your plate? Ask for help. At the very least, have someone else take as many domestic items off your shoulders (cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, dog walking) so you can focus on projects.
    4. Hunt and kill your project list. Avoid social media distractions. Take mini breaks, walks and stop to eat. Your creativity depends on a lull in the action to generate fresh inspiration and solutions.
    5. Celebrate your accomplishments!

    Reply
  16. rita maria

    no matter how much work you have to do and no matter how little time you have you have to start your day off with at least 5 minutes of quiet prayer and meditation. it’s priority. after that, everything will fall in to place.

    Reply
  17. Katie

    Hi, Promise! I can totally relate to what you’re feeling. It can be easy to say yes to a few too many things. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I try to step back from everything and make some space for quiet time with the Lord. I often will take a walk and listen to worship music, or just walk in silence and pray. I ask Him for His Spirit to calm my heart. Then, I ask Him to help me with one thing at a time. I try not to look at the whole picture/list of what has to be done. Instead, I pick the first thing that needs completing and try to focus on that. It certainly isn’t easy, but I’ve found that He truly does give me the strength and ability to tackle each thing, one by one. And I’ve found He’s always faithful to take those overwhelming feelings away, if I truly surrender them to Him (that surrender doesn’t always come easily, though!). Best of luck to you! You’re such an inspiration! :)

    Reply
  18. DJ

    Come to Santa Barbara :)

    Reply
  19. Sidney Morgan

    Just breathe.

    And figure out what to do first.

    And act.

    Action is the cure to anxiety.

    Reply
  20. Annie

    Hope things fall into place for you :) Just one step in front of the other (And keep a bowl of sweets on your desk!) I sent you an email about meeting up in October, but if you don’t have the time please let me know! :)

    Reply
  21. Patricia

    I always remember this:
    Q: How do you eat an elephant?
    A: One bite at a time.

    I struggle with being overwhelmed with almost everything I do. I don’t know why it drives me bananas. I just try to break it down into easy manageable pieces.

    Reply
  22. Heidi Sonnenschein

    Hi Promise.. first let me say that I am a huge fan of your work. I work for a christian organization doing graphic design/photography… but I also have my own business… and I love helping people, all the time. So I totally get what your saying. I often experience exactly what you are going through. I commit to projects because I want to push myself, broaden my view, learn more, and of course help people. But then I get overwhelmed, and sometimes sick lol because of how hard I run. I just have to remind myself to take it one project at a time… let clients know realistically the time frame on projects and not rush stuff. I’m sure you experience this but when you take on too much you have a lack of passion for what you do. The flow/inspiration isn’t there. So I guess it comes down to time management which I am still working on;) And choosing projects that you really love/thrive in because it makes you enjoy it more. Its not a chore to you. Its a joy. Anyways.. I just wanted to encourage you and let you know your not the only one that goes through it. We all do. Just remember to take time for yourself. Love your work.

    Reply
  23. nikki

    i like lists so making one usually helps, and if i’m really desperate, i’ll put something on the list that i’ve already completed to that i can get the momentum going. breaking down projects definitely helps too as well as getting done what i’m dreading most first. also, take time to rest.

    Reply
  24. Lindsey

    Remember the past when you prayed to be busy
    and wanted.

    You’re great at what you do.

    and ditto Tiffany, God does not give you anything you can’t handle.

    Reply
  25. Ashley

    That was exactly my morning yesterday! I suddenly felt totally overwhelmed and overcommitted and even with so much to do, I felt like I couldn’t begin doing anything. Ironically enough, I read an article from one of my church’s magazines titled Keeping Balance in Your Life that I’d bookmarked a few days before and found one piece of advice really helpful. It said to find some quiet time regularly to think about your life and set your priorities. It used an example from Luke 5:16 and pointed out that Jesus often withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed and it mentioned that we need to do the same to rejuvenate ourselves. Even when I feel like I don’t have a moment to spend doing anything other than work, I find that taking a break, however short it may be, can help to refocus everything and give me the energy and mental capacity I’ve been lacking to continue moving forward. Sorry if this comment is really long! I hope you feel better soon! And if all else fails, eat some chocolate. That always helps (:

    Reply
  26. Lindsay

    I’m at the very early stages of trying to start a design studio and had no idea where to start, which paralyzed me and everyday I was upset because I wasn’t making any progress. On top of that, holidays are coming up and I have a million house projects before visitors. Here’s what I do:

    1. List each project

    2. List each task that needs to be done under each project, in the order they need to be done in.

    3. (This is a big one) Estimate a duration for each task (2 hours, 4 days, etc.). This helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel, which helps me breathe again, instead of feeling like I’m going to cry. This lets you realistically see when (and if) you are actually going to get everything done in time. Think about, and give an estimate for, each piece of the project, NOT just “oh I think this project will take me about 9 days”.

    4. Prioritize. What has a hard commitment date? What has to be done before something else can even start. What would you really like to get done? And put your projects in order.

    Now you have a prioritized list of projects and and a list of tasks for each. You can see when each should be done, and can tell if you are too far behind and need to let someone know. This could even help you see if there are task you can delegate to someone else. AND if it is way too much work and can tell from day one that you need to make adjustments.

    As an added bonus you have a long list that you get to check off one by one. That’s my favorite part :)

    Hope this helps! And everyone else has great advice too, take a step back, clear your head,then dive back in…And reward yourself when you’ve made it through.

    Reply
  27. elisabetta

    Eeeek! It sounds like an exciting month for you, hun!
    The thing that works for me when I wake up feeling overwhelmed is to think about the tasks ahead while I have a good old shower. When you’re relaxing, you can calmly think about the tasks ahead in a more objective way and it’s easier to figure out a way to tackle them.
    I then write them down and select the tasks that take the least amount of time to complete. Often these are the ones that clutter your to do list and make you feel overwhelmed. But when you actually start going through them, you realise that they take no time at all and that your to do list is a lot smaller than you think. Once i’ve completed these tasks, I look again at the to do list, cross off the ones I’ve completed and write next to the tasks left on the list their deadline, which will dictate the order in which I will address them.
    Hope this helps!
    xx

    Reply
  28. Emma

    I’ve had that feeling a lot recently. Many of my most recent clients have booked me right at the last minute and I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail!

    As well as making lists, getting out for a walk and remembering to take a little time to yourself every day, the most important thing I try to do – to keep me sane! – is to be realistic. If I set one big task a day, just one, I know I can finish it. When I set two or three big things, especially things that require lots of creativity, I’m likely to fail and then everything feels as if it is building up and it becomes too much.

    Reply
  29. Lani Ledingham

    I can relate! Sometimes us women like to take on the whole world! I think when a person has so many things they want to try, and wants to embrace all of life, that can tend to happen, because ya know, it’s gotta all happen today :) When I get overwhelmed I too pray, go for a run, and get by myself to see what needs re-prioritizing. I have a good friend who’s a great confidant that helps me bounce ideas off of too.

    Reply
  30. Link Love: 9.27.12 | Nubbytwiglet.com

    [...] • What are the ways that you cope when you’re feeling overwhelmed? [...]

    Reply
  31. Kari Nichols

    Start reading “The Power of Positive Thinking” with your hubs in bed at night… I guarantee you will both LOVE it (it’s God based), and has so many fabulous ideas for just this overwhelmed thing :)

    I’m just about done with the book on iPad, and it’s changing my life!

    Reply
  32. Ana

    I talk with a friend, put some upbeat music for a few minutes, then start working through my tasks – smaller ones first.

    Reply
  33. Leslie

    reading The Artists Way – [awesome read!] – love morning pages :) but you have to get the book to find out what they are … it totally helps clear your head and you can focus for the day.

    Reply
  34. Lyn

    Late to the party as usual…symptomatic of too much on! A couple of things I’ve used when getting overwhelmed (and need to break out ATM since I’m up to my eyes and feeling pretty over it):

    1) After you’ve checked the time available against the length of time each project needs and realized it’s totally not enough, pick the clients/projects you can most easily push dates on and see if you can buy a little time.

    2) If it’s all paid work (and it sounds like most of it is) locate an intern and delegate everything you can. Use time previously reserved for clearing your inbox, doing laundry, dog walking etc etc, to get work done, and at the same time avoid neglecting your husband and your health – prioritise dinners together and getting in a bit of exercise/prayer/meditation and planning.

    3) Remind yourself it will be better next month, and start saying no to projects in the weeks following the busy time if you can – we can all go hard out for a short time but after that it’s burn-out city. And it’s best to retain a sense of control to avoid panicking and feeling like there’s no escape!

    4) Remind yourself that each project is taking you forward and you just need to focus for now. If it gets really bad for me I sometimes have to remind myself that I don’t have to like where I am right this minute – I just have to get the task at hand done and do a good job! It’s usually better the next day.

    Best of luck. And now I better start taking my own advice!!!

    Reply
  35. Jen

    Hi Promise. It was great to meet you and your husband at circles conf…despite my “nervous, hurry and pack in what I want to say, ramble” :) !
    I know this is a little later since you posted but have found myself currently overwhelmed (which I’m sure hormones play a big part too! ha).
    Anyway.
    My husband is great to talk to first and so good about encouraging me to remember that I’m not superhuman. After years of struggling with this balance to do it all and focus on my family so I don’t just appear to have everything together for clients and patients/co-workers, and not to myself and family…..I get honest with myself and others by making a phone call or talking to those people who I’m doing work for (after prioritizing) and tell them I will be possibly needing a wee bit more time. People will usually understand. It’s not in my makeup to be late or let people down, but it can make things better in the areas that are truly important and cause you to be more clear-headed to actually tackle everything more efficiently.
    Simple but so hard for me to do sometimes :)

    Reply
  36. Danielle L

    I have to turn off the computer sometimes. Listen to worship music. Journal. Read a book or magazine. Pray, rest, and walking.

    Reply
  37. Joyeaux

    I make a list of EVERYTHING I need to do! And then prioritize the list! And I breathe. Yoga helps, too. And reading the bible to gain perspective.

    Reply
  38. Lyn Walker

    Chunk it, prioritize it, schedule it and focus on one thing at a time…no multi-tasking!
    Stay with in your time allotments…you are an awesome designer–and you can do it!

    Reply
  39. Lyn Walker

    Chunk it, prioritize it, schedule it and focus on one thing at a time…no multi-tasking!
    Stay with in your time allotments…you are an awesome designer–and you can do it!

    Reply
  40. chrisbean

    First: I only allow three things on my to-do list each day. Yes: THREE.

    Beyond three things, to-do items get shifted to my weekly list, which has a more low-key-oh-whenever vibe. It would be nice to do more than three things in a day, and I vey often do, but three is what is manageable and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. When you only allow three things on a to-do list, that velvet rope sorts out your priorities mighty quick. When uncompleted tasks transfer from weekly list to weekly list too many times, evaluate whether you actually want or need to do them.

    Which brings us to: let stuff go. If it’s not making you happy or earning the right attention from you, step back. I just had to bow out of a freelance gig for the first time EVER: it was a project I was super-excited about designing and coding, but because it was unpaid and the clients were making excessive demands/changing their minds 180 degrees every two days/giving me unsolicited (bad!bad!) design advice, I let it go. I felt more joy and accomplishment from “firing” those clients than I’ve experienced from completing technically and aesthetically flawless past projects.

    Oh and break stuff down! Instead of saying “mock up landing page,” say “1. spend 40 minutes visiting similar sites.” “2. Select top-five possible fonts.” “3. research CSS3 transitions using javascript”: small, actionable steps defined by either time-limits or output quantities.

    Reply
  41. Jaime K

    I just posted my “answer” to this on my blog. It’s actually (literally!) a prescription from a doctor. I honestly don’t mean this to be spammy, but if you’re interested, it’s a short post: http://savethekales.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/left-brain-right-brain-and-the-art-of-doing-nothing/

    Reply
  42. Kristin B

    Dude, I hear ya! I’m so much in the same boat right now – totally spread thin, and super overwhelmed. I have no ground breaking advice to share, but meticulously keeping check lists helps me stay somewhat sane in this super busy times. And even though time feels squeezed thin, never underestimate the power of eating well! Never let that slide! (Learned that the hard way… yikes.) But it’s amazing what a difference eating properly can do to you frame of mind.

    Best wishes, Promise! I hope it all works (worked?) out for ya! You can do it, girl! x

    Reply
  43. Jarrod Reno

    Coffee. Literally will set me straight every time… from there I usually know what to do haha

    Reply
  44. Diana Patient

    List, prioritise and then a strict schedule remembering to include breaks!
    Love Diana
    xxx

    Reply
  45. Jana

    I know this is an old post but I had to share that sometimes I am overwhelmed to the point of tears. In those moments I literally get on my knees and pray to God to just get me through today, just today. It really helps me release the anxiety and feel more peaceful.

    Reply
  46. Falcon

    The best advice I have EVER received when feeling overwhelmed is to be GRATEFUL. Feel gratitude for everything that is going on in your life and it’ll help shift your energy of fear to one of love :)

    Reply
  47. Laura

    I approach things a little differently. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice break. But when I am overwhelmed, trying to relax just makes my heart pound. So I use a little reverse psychology.

    I make a TA DA list instead of a TO DO list.

    When I am stressed I have to switch the track. So I list all of the things I have accomplished that day or in the past week, or I just keep listing until I feel better. I literally list every email replied to, phone call returned and shoot edited. The really major ones I write IN ALL CAPS. And the ones I did really well I draw little hearts or smiley faces around. Sounds silly, but we need to remember the times that we just killed it and accomplished A TON!

    So now that I have pumped up and feel like I can take on the world … I then make a small list of the BIG things that I still need to accomplish on one side of the page under TO DO (like three or four projects) and on the other side I write TA DA at the top and I write every little itty bitty thing that I do that day as I go along to move the big things forward. Things like making a plan with time chunks, asking for help, or writing all future tasks on the calendar all count for the TA DA list in addition to the actions of the project. Then it all doesn’t seem so bad. Mentally it feels like I am accomplishing so much and I get jazzed to fill up the TA DA column. At the end of the day I count them all up and I do a little dance. Yep, I do a happy dance.

    Try it… TA DA! I’m done! :)

    Reply
  48. shawna yarbrough

    Well I can relate to this feeling. I have learned one thing that is easier said than done, but its really helping me.

    Opportunities are not always good for us. Pray and pause before you say yes to ANYTHING…no matter HOW fantastic the opportunity. I think with your talent you will have to learn to be a professional at saying no…not because you are weak but because you are strong and want to stay that way for the long haul.

    ” God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. Results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important. ” Mother Teresa

    That quote reminds me when I am tasking out…and being my OCD perfectionist self…that HE is not really concerned its perfect or super ultra uuber awesome …Pressure off…creativity is BACK :) LOL
    Love and a hug from an AZ friend who got to shop with you once before you left arizona!! :(

    Reply
  49. shawna

    Well I can relate to this feeling. I have learned one thing that is easier said than done, but its really helping me.

    Opportunities are not always good for us. Pray and pause before you say yes to ANYTHING…no matter HOW fantastic the opportunity. I think with your talent you will have to learn to be a professional at saying no…not because you are weak but because you are strong and want to stay that way for the long haul.

    ” God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. Results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important. ” Mother Teresa

    That quote reminds me when I am tasking out…and being my OCD perfectionist self…that HE is not really concerned its perfect or super ultra uuber awesome …Pressure off…creativity is BACK :) LOL
    Love and a hug from an AZ friend who got to shop with you once before you left arizona!! :(

    Reply
  50. shawna

    Well I can relate to this feeling. I have learned one thing that is easier said than done, but its really helping me.

    Opportunities are not always good for us. Pray and pause before you say yes to ANYTHING…no matter HOW fantastic the opportunity. I think with your talent you will have to learn to be a professional at saying no…not because you are weak but because you are strong and want to stay that way for the long haul.

    ” God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. Results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important. ” Mother Teresa

    That quote reminds me when I am tasking out…and being my OCD perfectionist self…that HE is not really concerned its perfect or super ultra uuber awesome …Pressure off…creativity is BACK :) LOL
    Love and a hug from an AZ friend who got to shop with you once before you left arizona!! :( I have never posted a comment on a blog EVER..here we go

    Reply
  51. brit

    1. remember you’re not called to be miserable. 2. remember satan’s biggest aspiration is to take your joy and peace (anne says if he can’t get you to sin he’ll just keep you busy) 3. say yes to some things you really want so you’re able to say no to what you don’t really want 4. be overly, overly loving to yourself 5. bird by bird, step by step, moment by moment.

    Reply
  52. Laci

    I just love this post! As an designer its so easy to feel this way! I’m currently trying to network with designers in LA and being in a new city and not knowing anyone has definitely put me in the same space that you’re writing about.. I’m just taking it one day at a time, staying motivated, and drinking margarita here and there = )

    http://www.solacilike.com

    Reply