5 Simple Steps to Take When you Feel Overwhelmed with Life
5 Simple Steps to Take When you Have too Much on Your Plate
“I feel like I have too much on my plate!” Do those words sound familiar? Have you said them recently, even this week, to yourself?
Think for a moment of an analogy with a real plate of food.
When you sit down to eat a meal and you have too much on your plate, you can’t really enjoy your food because there is too much food in one place. It can be overwhelming: you don’t know where to start or how you ended up with so much in the first place. You just planned to get a little bit of everything!
You may even feel sick to your stomach just looking at all the food. Indecision may plague you: do you start with the vegetables or the bread? Do you eat each food one at a time, or eat a bit of everything until you finish? Or, can you even finish all you have on your plate? Perhaps you have too much to eat all at once.
If you think of your life as you think of an imaginary plate filled with too much food-overwhelming, too much, or it makes you feel sick-it is time to reevaluate.
Think of your day as a plate with 24 sections. There is a limited amount of room in each one: 60 minutes. Sleep goes in some sections, chores, meals, family time, and time for self-care go in others.
Since the time in each one is limited, they need to be used wisely so your plate is balanced and there is not too much in certain sections. If it is too heavy, you risk it falling and making a big mess!
These 5 simple steps will help you to pare down when you have too much on your plate so you can reduce stress and enjoy what you do have even more. Are you ready?
Count what you have on your plate. Is your day so filled that your twenty item to-do list will take three days to get done?
When you actually count the number of items you have set out to do each day and honestly evaluate how long they will take you to do, you can see more clearly if you have overloaded yourself.
It may be helpful to write out a list so you can clearly see all you want to get done. Beside each item, write down the length of time you estimate it will take you to get it done. Don’t forget to write down sleep! If the hours add up to more than 24 hours, you know you have loaded up your plate too much. You are ready to evaluate your list.
Now that you have looked at all that is on your plate, you can evaluate each item. Ask yourself a few questions about each item:
- Is it necessary?
- Can it be removed? Is it something someone else can do or something you can just drop completely?
- Can it be reduced? Can you spend less time on it or reduce your effort in doing it?
- Can it be rescheduled? Perhaps you can put it on your calendar for another day.
- Does it bring you joy?
Think about your answers. Sometimes our initial response is to say, “Yes, all of these things are necessary!” But, perhaps they are not. Some of them you can cut out completely, delegate to someone else, or have someone help you so they get done faster.
Some of the items on your plate may not need as much time as you think they do or need as much effort as you want to spend on them.
Take the time to honestly evaluate what is on your plate.
Take some things off of your plate.
As far as activities go, you may really want your kids to go to a birthday party, a soccer game, and another event on the same day, but is it really realistic? Decide which one has the highest priority and reduce or drop the rest. You will have more peace of mind and less stress. So will your kids!
In your day to day life, what can you remove?
Are you a mom who tries to do everything for your family? An important fact is: your husband and kids can help, too. You are all part of your family together, so you can all work together. Even young kids can set the dinner table or put their clean clothes away. Older kids can help make dinner or make dinner themselves, wash dishes, and do laundry. Everyone can work together to clean your home and keep it running smoothly.
Look at your list to see what personal things can be removed. Perhaps instead of doing three things every day (like a craft project, reading, and calling a friend), you can do one each day and spend more time on each one the day you have it on your plate.
Sometimes, instead of things on our list, what we need to remove are the negative things we say to ourselves. “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never get it together.” “So-and-so is better than me.” “I want to give up.” This does not serve you or help you to be the person God has created you to be.
You are an amazing woman, a beautiful child of God, whom He has gifted with all you need to live the life He has called you to live. Ask Him to help you to understand this and to live your best life each day. He will help you.
Where in your day can you scale back?
Mopping the floor may usually take you 45 minutes, but will it look just fine if you spend 20 or 30 minutes instead?
If you have a big project to work on, you can set a timer for 15 minutes and work on it for that length of time, then stop. Take a break until another day or take a break and then get back to it for another 15 minutes until you have worked on it as much as you need to each day.
Sometimes we need to limit the amount of time we spend with others, either calling, texting, or using social media. If you need to talk to someone who likes to talk for a long time, but you want to protect your own time, set a timer or tell the person ahead of time that you only have 20 minutes (or 5 minutes!) to talk and then you need to go. Then, stick with your time!
If texting seems to take up your time, decide certain times in your day when you will respond to non-urgent text messages. For example, 10 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm, or even once a day (depending on how many messages you get).
The same idea can be applied to social media: plan certain times in your day when you will check it and plan ahead of time the length of time ahead of time you will spend.
Another way to minimize is to reduce the effort you spend on certain things. Instead of trying to give 100% on everything, where can you give 80% and still get similar results?
Look at your list and identify where can you reduce the amount of time or the effort you spend doing things.
You are in control of your day. You get to decide how you spend your time and the attitude with which you approach your day.
Make sure you give yourself time to breathe each day. Self-care is what will help you to do this. What do you like to do that renews you? What do you enjoy doing?
Yes, this post’s topic is about reducing the load on your plate each day, yet when you make time for yourself, you are better able to handle what comes your way each day.
If you are not sure where you can put self-care in your day and you enjoy watching television, perhaps you can remove some of the time you watch television and read, spend time on a hobby, or sleep instead.
Time for self-care does not need to be hours each day. You can take short times in your day to take a deep breath, exercise (even if you are just walking around inside your home), read a few pages in a book you enjoy, or take a few pictures of your kids.
Creating these times in your day to breathe helps you manage your day and gives you renewed energy.
Resources to help you when you have too much on your plate
Summary of the 5 simple steps you can take when you feel overwhelmed with life because you have too much on your plate
What do you do if you have too much on your plate? Use these 5 steps to help you out: Count what you have on your plate, evaluate everything on your list, decide what you can remove or delegate, minimize or reduce the amount of time or effort on some items, and make sure you have time to breathe each day.
You can do this!