Sometimes it feels like life gets in the way and things get away from us.  Sometimes you just get overwhelmed and feel like you can’t cope.

But here’s the thing:

You can do it.  You can learn to stay on top of things.

How to stay on top of things!

Why You Can’t Stay on Top of Things

It’s not too hard to feel overwhelmed.  Well, it isn’t too hard for me to get overwhelmed by some things, anyways.  I take one look at the messy dining room table or the cluttered living room and want to run away screaming.  Organizing may not overwhelm you, but chances are something else does.

When you get overwhelmed and run away from ‘big’ projects and tasks, you can’t stay on top of things.  But the more you run away from something, the bigger it gets.  The bigger it gets, the more overwhelmed you feel, and the less you want to tackle it.  Thus begins a vicious cycle.

So, how do you break it?

Find the Root Problem

Usually, things aren’t quite what they appear on the surface.  Organizing and cleaning stress me out like crazy, but Lucas is perfectly fine with them.  Having things look like this:

Messy Desk: Stay on Top of It!
. . . just doesn’t really bother me.  I actually feel like I can find things better when it messy. (I’m sure that’s a psychological thing, rather than the truth, but whatever.)  The idea of trying to ‘fix’ it stresses me out more than trying to find things in the mess.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that the root problem isn’t that I’m lazy (well, sometimes), or that there’s too much to do.  The root problem, for me, is that I don’t take the time to break things down into manageable chunks.

That may not be your problem, but you still need to figure out what the problem is.  In my case, if I find myself avoiding something ‘big,’ I need to recognize this probably means I’m looking at the big picture rather than smaller steps.  Instead of avoiding it and letting it get even bigger, I need to tackle it while it’s still manageable and break it down.

Make a Plan of Action

Once you know what the root cause is, you can get on top and stay on top of it.  For me, if I need to organize a room, I have to break it down into sections.  We’re still setting up our new Spare Room, and it’s a little daunting.  That room is going to be the Music Room, the Editing Suite, the Crafting Room, and probably more.  Since it’s the last room to get set up since we moved, it’s also become the catch-all for miscellaneous boxes.  Every time I go in there, I want to run away.  Instead, I have forced myself to take on a little bit at a time.

By knowing what my root problem is, I’ve been able to make a conscious decision to not get overwhelmed.  I’ve slowly but surely weeded my way through boxes (and thrown out a lot of things – YAY!).  Once the miscellaneous boxes were done, I started in on my beading supplies, which desperately needed to be reorganized anyways.  Lo and behold, it didn’t even take as much time as I feared.  I kept putting it off because I thought it would take several hours, and I don’t think it took even one hour.

The things that paralyze you and keep you from staying on top of things usually aren’t as scary as you think.

Take Heart

That’s pretty much it.  Two steps.  Not too bad, right?

Really the only other thing to do is take heart and don’t forget that it’s not as scary as it looks.  You CAN do it!

What keeps you from staying on top of things, and how have you or will you conquer it?

Co-Founder and Strategic Manager at The Spare Room Project

Having grown up near Seattle, Jenn is Washingtonian to the core, and believes that trees that lose their leaves are unnatural and snow is evil. Right now, though, she calls the-middle-of-nowhere Ohio home, having stayed after college. With a vastly varied background in creativity – from hosting a radio show to jewelry design to filmmaking – becoming the Strategic Manager and Wearer-of-Many-Hats for TSRP was meant to be!

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