Getting things done while in Overwhelm

What a year, hey? At the start of 2020 the word ‘lockdown’ wasn’t a part of everyday vocabulary. But now, it’s well understood and is a shortcut for people across the states and world to relate to experiences of COVID-19. 

Over this time I’ve worked with clients across Australia as states have gone in and out of lockdowns. A common discussion has been the overwhelm that these changes in daily life cause. First preparing for lockdown (canceling and rescheduling events and meetings, prioritising things differently, accommodating for homeschooling), then ‘doing’ the lockdown and then reentering the world (some bolt from the gate but for others it’s harder and a slower process).

And through all this, life goes on. There are things to do and commitments to keep (especially if delivering to someone outside of your state who is not experiencing lockdown). So how do we get things done while navigating such changes in routine? And I’m not just talking about lockdowns, which hopefully will not be a part of our lives for too much longer, but transition. Those times of life when routines as you know them fly out the window and you’re left wrapping your head around new responsibilities, demands, and activities. Say moving house, starting a new job, losing a job, retiring, getting married, having a child, or being diagnosed with an illness. All of these situations can evoke change overwhelm.

So what can you do to ground and to keep on top of all the things?

1.Do what you can

There will of course be some things that you can’t do and there will be a bit of planning and admin time to delay them till a more appropriate time. Once this is done, turn your attention on what you can do. Focus on this stuff. Here is also where we need to be kind to ourselves in terms of energy levels and focus. It’s unreasonable to expect ourselves in times of disorientation to work at the same level as before. If all you can do is read a book, or write an article, or clear up your emails, then that’s great.


In times of transition, sometimes our usual systems don’t work or support us like they used to. And that’s okay – they’ll be there to return to or tweak when we are ready. It’s in times of overwhelm that I like to turn to the old pen and paper brain dumping exercise, link to organising overwhelm. This trusty tool helps empty your mind and clear out the rush of ‘shoulds’ and ideas at the time when cultivating a kindness for ourselves is so important. You may find that you don’t have to action the brain dump list immediately. Some things can be scheduled ahead but at least now they are captured somewhere.

3.Relax, up the self-care

Of the utmost importance during change is self-care. Identify one or two activities that help ground you (journaling? Meditating? Exercise? Sleep?) and build the rest of the day around them. You can return to your usual routines (if they still serve) at a later point, but for the moment, adapt to suit your needs at the moment. 

A client said this after a session on this very topic: Christie, you helped me understand how managing my overall health and energy levels is so important to improving my productivity. I’m feeling much better due to your, as always, sage advice about self-care and adapting routines when things change 🙂 yesterday was a difficult day but our session was so helpful as always, and I’m feeling much more on top of things now.

When we give ourselves permission to rest, slow down, and put our self-care first, overwhelm subsides. When daily life gets turned upside down, no matter the reason, we can always return to the bare necessities and work our routines backup. If you need more guidance on these steps and need help in clearing the mental clutter – let me know, I’m here to help. Feel free to book in for a free 30 minute call with me. 

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