6 Signs You’re Trying to Do Too Much & 6 Ways to Handle Overwhelm

As I’ve written before, I believe that slowing down and simplifying is vital to making actual progress and accomplishing our goals. Trying to be busy and productive every second of every day actually works against us. But slowing down is easier said than done, especially when we are so constantly bombarded with messages telling us not to waste precious time and that we can do anything if we just work hard enough.

Don’t get me wrong — working hard is important. But when that becomes the focus, it’s easy to overwork ourselves and hit burnout. So today I want to share some signs that you’re trying to do too much, and some actions you can take to alleviate some of your overwhelm.

Signs You’re Trying To Do Too Much At Once

How do you know you’re doing too much? General feelings of overwhelm are pretty obvious, of course. But here are six concrete signs you’ve got too much on your plate.

1. Your inbox overflows.

Every time you open your email, hundreds or thousands of unread emails stare you in the face. You’re not sure where to find that one email you need to respond to right now, and you know you’ve missed a few deadlines and opportunities because they’ve just been sitting there unopened.

Crowded inbox

What’s more, you know you need to go through and delete everything that isn’t important and set up a system for organizing the rest. But that takes time, and time is something you don’t have enough of already.

2. You keep forgetting and/or overlooking important tasks.

You know that certain tasks need to take priority, yet you keep getting distracted by all the other priorities. Or you only seem to remember certain tasks at times when you’re already immersed in other activities, and not at times when you could actually do something about them. Because of this, you might bounce from activity to activity, not quite finishing anything.

Other tasks don’t have a deadline, so they just keep getting moved to the back burner, and you never seem to get around to them at all.

3. You have no clear routine, schedule, or system for getting things done.

You feel as though you aren’t in control of your own days, and have no idea where your time goes. Once again, you may bounce aimlessly from one task to another, or have to constantly steer yourself back on track.

4. Something always gets left undone at the end of the day.

Working late at night

Try as you might, you can never quite finish everything you’ve assigned yourself to do in a day. As such, you’re in a constant state of trying to catch up but never completely arriving. And you definitely don’t get enough sleep, either.

5. You don’t want to work such long hours, but feel that you have to in order to get everything done.

Related to #4, your days are too long, and you don’t get the time to yourself you know you need. But there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all your tasks AND rest.

6. You don’t even know where to start to get organized.

Making a list of everything you need to do sounds exhausting — and would take up too much precious time. Perhaps you have been able to break down your commitments into categories, but it’s still a nightmare to even think about what to do first.

What To Do When There’s Not Enough Time

Not enough time

Did you notice the recurring problem? There isn’t enough time.

But that isn’t actually the problem. The problem is that you’re trying to do too many things. No matter how important those tasks may seem (or may actually be!), it isn’t worth damaging your mental and physical health running yourself into the ground. You need to slow down, somehow.

1. Prioritize and simplify.

First, breathe. Once you’ve accepted that “not enough time” isn’t the problem, you’ll probably find it a little easier to pause.

Next, you need to get your priorities in order. Here is where a system like the Eisenhower Matrix can be incredibly useful. Which tasks are both important and time-sensitive? Which tasks are important, but don’t have a solid deadline? And which tasks aren’t actually important or urgent? Be honest: what you lose by letting go of certain tasks? Maybe it’s time to move on.

2. Make a routine and hold yourself accountable.

Put some structure into your day, so you know exactly how much time you have to work with. (It may be more than you think!) Set deadlines, even for tasks that don’t seem to require them. And make sure to give yourself more than enough time, so you aren’t stressed when something inevitably takes longer than you think it will or other things pop up unexpectedly.

3. Set personal boundaries.

This might entail restricting the amount of time you spend on certain activities, or the number of new activities you agree to take on. Either way, the point is to stop over-committing yourself and to be conscious of how you’re spending your time.

4. Take a day off to plan, rest, and/or take care of all the little tasks that have piled up.

Sometimes you need to put everything that isn’t time-sensitive on pause and just rest. Other times, you need to set aside an afternoon or an entire day for all the little to-dos that are simple and quick but never make it into the priority list. Once you’ve caught up and had a chance to catch your breath, you’ll be in much better condition to throw yourself back into busyness if you need to.

5. Find an organizational system that works for you.

Some people are more productive using digital planners and/or calendars. Some people perform better using a bullet journal or printed planner. Others like a mix of different systems. Find the one that gives you the most clarity and use it.

Bullet Journal June Monthly Spread

6. Outsource some of the workload.

Sometimes there may simply be too many things for one person to handle. Are there any tasks that you can delegate to someone else? Whether it be a co-worker, family member, virtual assistant, or someone else, they may be able to help lighten your workload tremendously, just by taking on a few of those time-consuming tasks. But, remember — especially if you aren’t paying them — make sure they’re not also taking on too much to handle at one time.

And hey — if you’re thinking of hiring an assistant, check out my services! I may be able to help you free up some of that precious time.

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