When You’re Overwhelmed, What Do You Do?

You guys did such an awesome job in the comments on my last post, I thought I’d throw a different sort of question out there and see what wisdom you all have to send my way.

Here’s the issue. I’m kind of drowning in Real Life right now. No doubt a lot of you can relate! I’m heading towards a couple of major life events (of which buying my first house is only one) that require a lot of planning and work and decision-making. That last is not my strong suit, shall we say, and as a result I tend to get hung up on decisions — or paralyzed by the sheer amount that needs doing — and unable to move forward.

At the same time, I’m also trying not to drop my end of Turtleduck Press. And working full-time. And trying to stay connected to the important people in my life. And trying to occasionally work on some fiction — though to be honest, there’s not much of that happening. I figure it takes too much brain power right now, and I’m lucky enough (?) not to be under contract deadlines, so I can get back to it when Real Life settles down.

Here are a few things I’ve been doing…

1. Guarding my playtime. I spent most of last weekend at a dance festival, dancing. Was it productive? No. Was it tiring and time-consuming? Yes. Was it rejuvenating? Heck yes.

2. Finding support. Whether it’s somebody to come along on errands, bounce decisions off, or lend emotional support and no opinions, I know my friends and loved ones have got my back. You know who you are — thanks!

3. Prioritizing. Twitter and other social media are fun, and for an aspiring author they’re also important, but they don’t even come close to being top priority. Even within those life events I mentioned, some parts warrant much thought and investigation of options and analysis of pros and cons, and some parts just don’t.

Over to you now. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, what do you do? What are your best tips for digging out from under?

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6 responses to “When You’re Overwhelmed, What Do You Do?

  1. I’ve been dealing with being overwhelmed, too. I bit off more than I could deal with this month — I was doing two writing classes over at Margie Lawson’s site, the A to Z Blog Challenge (a blog six days a week), a science fiction convention, the novel, Twitter, and the job.
    The short version, I start editing. Some things self-edit on their own, and others I had to edit. The A to Z Challenge ended yesterday for me because I just couldn’t keep up. I also decided that instead of trying to post three times a week, I will post every three days. That’ll also give me time to catch up in between for comments (which has been a problem with A to Z).
    For Twitter, I use Buffer to post automatically throughout the day, as well as HootSuite’s timed tweets. I try to set as much up in the morning as I can. I’m also letting it go more on the weekend, since there tends not to be a lot happening online over the weekend.
    And right now, I’m putting more focus on the classes, because that is influencing what’s coming in my revisions.

  2. richardmonro731

    Siri, you are not alone. Overwhelmed is a suffix to my name. I just blogged about 3 Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety at http://richardmonro.com. Maybe the counsel will help. I thought I had the syndrome in a bad way until i read Linda Adams comment. Linda, why haven’t you gone up in a puff of smoke already?

  3. Linda and Richard, it sounds like you’re both doing a form of productivity triage — identifying what you can cut out and then letting it go without guilt. That’s definitely something I can work on. Thanks!

  4. Richard, it’s been utterly insane at work — I’m in a constant state of emergency there, and I don’t have control of it. It’s been at the point — since last August — that I’ve been afraid I was going to burn out. Doing so many writing related things became a way of balancing it out.

  5. Linda, you’ve found that having high stress at work makes you focus harder on your writing? Interesting; I would have thought the opposite. Or is it that having something else to focus on lessens the immediacy of the work stress? Whatever it is, I’m glad you’ve found a solution that works for you! Hope the situation improves soon.

  6. Siri, I think it’s more like what Bob Mayer mentioned — even too much creativity can burn a writer out. He writes full-time, but he also works on non-fiction projects, which require different mental muscles. Productivity is still happening, but it’s different. With the job, it’s all one kind of mental muscle, and writing is an entirely different one.

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