How do you achieve your goals when you're feeling overwhelmed?

By Jennifer Travis, Director, Public Programs & Customer Experience


The best way to break through overwhelm is to take action. But how do you do that when you're feeling short on time and stressed? It's a great question.

Break it down and get started.

This seems so simple, but it makes an immediate impact. When you have what feels like an enormous task in front of you, break it into smaller chunks. Take a breath and look at those smaller pieces and pick something you can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time.  Is there something that you will be able to cross off if you focus on it for just a few minutes? Choose one thing, set a timer and eliminate any distractions and commit to that first step.  

Just getting started, combined with the satisfaction of crossing one step off of your list, will calm your brain and build momentum to help you keep going. 

Be ruthless with your to-do list.

Seriously, be merciless. Is everything on your to-do list a priority? Will committing your time and attention to each item have the impact you want?  Our to-do lists are often filled with "shoulds" that aren't really as urgent as they felt when you added them. Or, you added something because you didn't want to say no. Tasks can take on a false sense of urgency when they're tied to our fear of letting other people down or the desire to show you can 'do it all. Or needing to prove something. Be honest and compassionate with yourself, put your ego aside and ask, what can I eliminate from my list?

If you can, delegate. 

Consider how someone might be able to help. Not everyone has a direct line of delegation, but most of us have colleagues who are willing to lend a hand or a manager to talk to about getting support or re-prioritizing. 

Shift your mindset

Most importantly, shift your mindset. If you're feeling overwhelmed, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that you are capable of getting things done.  Consciously remind yourself that you can get through it. Take a minute, and write down a few things you've accomplished when you thought the odds were stacked against you.  Afterward, think about those accomplishments and remind yourself you can do this too. Use that positive energy as fuel to help you move forward.  

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