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5 Simple Steps to Take When Life Gets Overwhelming

Feel like there's no way you'll be able to get it all done? These strategies will help you handle the chaos.

Sometimes, life gets overwhelming. The to-do list that's piling up, the extra project that's been thrown your way at work, the surprise birthday party you forgot you promised to organize—sometimes it can feel as if there's no way you'll be able to get it all done. As I've been working my way through this a lot lately, I thought I would share some of my methods to managing the madness.

1. Outline the big picture. What are the general categories of items that need to get done? My current view is functional: magazine content, layout, website, finances, marketing, etc. If your work is project based, organize by project.

2. Break down the parts. For each category, what smaller actions need to be accomplished? When I make my lists, I go so far as to write down emails I need to send; once I do it, I get the satisfaction of accomplishing a milestone, not just a step in the process.

3. Prioritize. If all the smaller actions feel like they're at a 'red alert' level, step back to see which tasks are the ones that move your project forward or impede other actions from happening. Ask yourself, “If this doesn’t get done right away, will anything else be held up? Will the project fall apart?” This helps focus in on the items that truly need to be done first.

4. Outsource. It's tempting to do everything yourself, but some things just aren’t an efficient use of your time. Outsource tasks that are easy and time-consuming to someone on elance, o-desk, or TaskRabbit to help for cheap.

5. Be kind to yourself. You aren’t superwoman and don’t have to be. Do what you can and be sure to attend to the other needs of your life, including eating well, exercising, and spending time with friends. This is often the hardest part!

How do you deal with the chaos of your life?

(image via Jocelyn C. Photography)