Overcoming Overwhelm: Brain Dump and Prioritize

Overcoming Overwhelm: Brain Dump and Prioritize

In our last podcast episode we spoke with Isitri Modak about ways to help you regroup when you are overwhelmed. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode you can find it here. In this podcast episode we will talk about how to prioritize.

How a brain dump and prioritization can help eliminate overwhelm:

In the last podcast episode we talked about how you can use your breathing to help calm yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Being able to take just a moment to breath can bring you back to a calmer state where you are able to function again.

Ok, that’s great but how do we keep ourselves from ever getting to that overwhelmed state to begin with?

This is what we are covering in this episode. How can you prioritize your life in a way that helps you be less stressed and more productive?

How can you prioritize to reduce your stress?

I know that I almost always feel like I have too much to do. EVERYTHING to do. I am sure there are days you feel like that too right?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were 5 of me to be able to get all of this stuff done? Well, unfortunately that just isn’t possible. So how do you handle life when a million things need to be done?

You prioritize. I know it sounds over simplistic – BUT it truly can be a life saver. Now, when I say prioritize that doesn’t mean just make a to do list and check stuff off. (Because I am sure you have all tried that and it doesn’t always work). I know I have made plenty of lists that have never even gotten ONE thing checked off.

So when I say prioritize here is what I mean. Start with a brain dump – write out everything that you can think of that needs done. It doesn’t matter how big or small, just write it down. By the way, I suggest doing this on paper not on any electronic device.

Why? Because when we are on our phones or computers it is WAY to easy to be distracted. I have often started working on something on my computer, stop for a moment to check my email – and then the next thing I know an hour has gone by.

Use the matrix to help you prioritize…

So – on paper – write down all your ‘to do’ items. THEN you are going to prioritize them using the mindful matrix below.

In the podcast we break this down in more detail but the basic concept of this is:

  1. Go through your list and start prioritizing the items as urgent, non-urgent, important and not important
  2. Put them in the various boxes in the matrix
    1. The items that are urgent and important are your ‘to do’ items – things that must get done and in a timely manner
    2. The items that are important but not urgent – you need to decide if they can wait until later or do they really need to be done at all
    3. Items that are urgent but not important – can you delegate those to someone else? Like your kids.
    4. Things that are not important and non-urgent – get rid of them. You don’t need to do them..

We go over more examples of this in the podcast but here is a basic scenario. The dirty dishes are urgent because they need to be washed – but it is not important for YOU to necessarily be the one to do them. So can your kids take over that task from you?

Here is another example of prioritization:

You have been asked to volunteer to bake cookies for your child’s school but you already have a lot on your plate. In the matrix where does that fall for you? Will the school be ok if you don’t bake the cookies? How urgent and important to YOU is this task?

If it falls under non-urgent and non important – then you say no. And no is a complete sentence. You don’t have to explain yourself or make excuses. You can simply say no, I am not able to do that this time.

Prioritizing isn’t simply putting things down on a list to check off. It is also taking a moment to decide what is most important to you and what actually requires YOU to be the one to do it.

Remember, if you are overwhelmed and stressed out then you are no good to anyone. You will burn out eventually and you are too important for that to happen.

Try this method and see if it helps you start prioritizing the things in your life and helps you be more productive. And hopefully less stressed out!

** In the podcast ‘Ish’ also mentions her upcoming event on October 5th-9th. This is a FREE virtual event for moms so if you would like to experience calmer and more productive days you can register here!**

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