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A Way Out of Overwhelm

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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Every year the rain gutters must be cleaned before the winter storms. We have a lot of cedar and oak trees which are very messy in the fall. It’s amazing how much accumulates in a relatively narrow metal channel that runs along the edges of the roof!

Now the first winter storm was almost upon us and, thank you procrastination, it has to be done and it has to be done NOW. There isn’t even enough time to hire someone. The wind is already picking up.

It’s not such a terrible job, it just takes a lot of time, which is a commodity that’s in short supply these days. Between my work, taking care of animals, and caring for my wife and doing the household chores that she can no longer do, my plate is more than full. The thought of having to clean the rain gutters on top of everything else was too much to bear.

As I was having a pity party for myself it occurred to me that perhaps I was making this a bigger job than it had to be. Only about half of our rain gutters are over windows and doors, the rest are on the garage and parts of the house we just don’t use that much. That’s when I realized that I could do the job in sections and alleviate the immediate problem by only cleaning those gutters that were protecting the most important areas. Bingo! I just cut the job in half!

That leads me to ask you this: how can you apply this idea to your own long to-do list? Can you cut some of your overwhelm by doing just the critical parts of some of the tasks on your plate? I’m not suggesting that you can completely eliminate anything on your list, but you may be able to split some of them into pieces so you can get the critical part done immediately, saving the rest for later when you have more time (stop laughing ...).

For example, there’s a big pile of dishes in the sink, it’s late, you have to get up early for an appointment, and they have to be done before you go to bed. Or do they? Maybe you can simply do the dishes you will need for breakfast and leave the rest for later.

Years ago I had a large programming project and there was no way I was going to finish on time.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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