3 Steps to Regain Control and Focus
When feeling overwhelmed, you may find yourself on the verge of tears, burdened by the sheer volume of tasks and unsure of where to begin. It’s like drowning, struggling to keep your head above water amid the chaos.

During such moments, adopting certain strategies can be helpful. If you’re currently experiencing overwhelming emotions, take a moment to listen and consider these three steps.

Change - Barbara's gray hair

Step 1: Clear the Mental Clutter

To address overwhelm, begin by freeing your mind from excessive clutter. Often, we try to remember and hold onto everything, causing mental overload. To tackle this, perform a “Clear the Mental Clutter” exercise. Take some time to unload every task, concern, or responsibility that you need to deal with.

This could involve jotting down lists, using notebooks, or even digital tools. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper.


Step 2: Organise and Prioritise

Once you’ve emptied your mind, it’s time to organize the chaos. Engage in the “Organise and Prioritise” step, where you categorize the items you’ve listed, grouping them based on relevance, project, or category.

This will enable you to focus on specific tasks or projects when needed. Whether you prefer using a digital method, Excel sheets, or simply pen and paper, organizing will streamline your approach and make things more manageable.


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Step 3: Embrace the Essential Few

In times of crisis, it’s essential to prioritise. Imagine being a mother with three babies caught in a flood, but you only have two arms. As difficult as it may be, you have to decide which two babies to save. Similarly, during overwhelming situations, recognize the power of “Embracing the Essential Few.”

Realistically, you can achieve only three to five tasks in a day. Concentrate on these key priorities and let go of the rest. Accept that you cannot do it all, and that’s okay for your own wellbeing.


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Gain perspective and reframe your challenges. Ask yourself, are the consequences truly life-threatening or financially devastating?

In most cases, they won’t be as catastrophic as your mind may lead you to believe. Don’t let guilt and unnecessary responsibilities weigh you down; focus on the essential tasks and tackle them one at a time.

Avoid overwhelming yourself with an excessive number of tasks. If you complete your prioritised list, then move on to the next set. Utilise the brain dump technique and focus on specific projects to alleviate the overwhelming feeling.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these strategies. Share your experiences with overwhelm and how you managed to overcome drowning feelings in the comments below.


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About the Author

Barbara Clifford - The Time Tamer
Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a co-founder of The Hinwood Institute. She is the lead trainer and coach in Time Management. She is a recognized leader in Stress Management. An experienced coach, speaker, columnist and facilitator, Barbara’s work with The Hinwood Institute assists people to unclutter mess, make order from chaos, and swap the shackles of overwhelming for freedom. Barbara’s clients move from the relentless hamster wheel to waking inspired, motivated, making decisions with purpose and achieving peak performance. She lives in the desert of Alice Springs, Australia working with people around the country.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships