Tell me again how not to be overwhelmed

alisandeApril 20, 2005

I need a refresher, please.

I'm reaching that point again where I fear I'll never be able to do everything that needs to be done. Since I first came to this forum a couple of years ago, so much has been accomplished: new bedroom, new kitchen, siding, porch, two wood floors refinished, new ceiling in the hallway, new floors in both bathrooms, and one bath in the process of a complete remodel. I should feel empowered, right?

Well, to a degree I do. Or I have. But every new room has resulted in STUFF from that room getting moved to the living room (presently without furniture as I gave it all away), where it sits in boxes or whatever, waiting to be sorted through. I haven't seen my piano in over a year. The delivery of the new furniture depends on me getting the windows and bookshelves painted, and that depends on getting the crap out of the living room. The fact that this house has almost no closet space doesn't help. Neither does my three-day-a-week job or the second job I do at home for extra money.

I'm trying to remember....should I make a list of everything that needs to be done, and then prioritize it? Should I break everything down into smaller, more manageable, less overwhelming jobs? Do I set the timer for 15 minutes, or is that for routine cleaning? Help!!

Many thanks,


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I always do a 15-minute swing, when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I go longer, when I am more on a roll, and not feeling so buried with tasks.

After a couple of days, I'm always amazed at how much I really got done, and things no longer seem so monumental.

As you declutter, put things straight into the trunk of the car, and take them to the charity drop-off the very next day!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 8:32AM
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Ah, the Rubik's Cube philosophy!

In order to solve the Rubik's Cube, you first get ONE side all in order. Then, in order to get the next row, you have to MESS UP that first row. Methodically, perhaps, but you have to UNorder it.

Then, after twisting stuff around, you make the last few twists, and they're ALL in order.

I also liken this to that puzzle w/ the tiles--you know, 15 sliding tiles, and one's missing? I used to be REALLY good at that--11 seconds. No matter WHAT the design, or how badly it was messed up. One of my "super powers," LOL!

There was a secret. You didn't concentrate on getting one or two tiles in their proper spots.

You concentrated on getting six of them OUT of order, but in the RIGHT out-of-order. So that then you could march them backwards into place.

I have had times like that in my house. I need to put the books int he living room away; but can't until I get a bookshelf. I can't get the bookshelf until I clear out the spot I'm going to set it that currently has boxes of clothes. I can't move the boxes of clothes until I move the toys off the shelf of the closet where the clothes *should* go. Bingo--there's the ONE thing that everything else hinges on.

Here's what I did. I sat down WITH PAPER and said, "what do I need to do?" I wrote down in one column, "get books out of living room"; in the next column I wrote "buy bookshelf"

Once I'd gone on long enough I could figure out what ONE thing was the peg it all hung on.

Do that first, so you know you're tackling the most important thing. And, when the "books in the living room" bug you, you can say, "I'll go weed out the toys in the closet" because you'll *know* that's the thing that's most important.

It really worked for me--I tackled the toys in the closet, and whammo, the rest just rippled into place. But until I figured out which ONE thing was holding everything else up, I never seemed to get anywhere.

Then, once you've figure out what is *your* "toys in the closet" thing, you can do it in 15-minute bursts.

Or "do a dozen" (my personal favorite--pick up or sort out 12 things). The fun thing about "do a dozen" is that you can define what counts--got 45 minutes before bed? do 12 boxes. Got 10 minutes before you leave for work? do 12 individual pieces of paper.

(It sounds like somehow you need to increase your storage. Or get REALLY tough about tossing stuff. You can't keep more than you can store. If the sorting out is really holding you up, maybe you should see about a Rubbermaid shed, or something, to get that stuff out of the way for painting. Esp. since the furniture is actually waiting to be dealt w/)

Here is a link that might be useful: sliding-tile puzzle

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 11:35AM
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Talley explained to the point what I call my "Linch-Pin" system and I do think a piece of paper is helpful so you can write out the steps to make sure you are getting back to the root cause of why you can't get something done. I like to use an oversized index card for each. The main task on the blank side and the steps to get to that point on the lined side. That way each main task is one card.. that way I think can keep up with things that need to be done. I try to keep differnt color cards for different types of tasks or places.. Example Outside stuff I do on green cards. Stuff for the kids schooling I do on yellow. I am a color person.. this clues me into how I should be directing my time.

Hope that idea helps!


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 6:17PM
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Thank you, everyone. Talley Sue, you managed to zero in on my problem in a way that I couldn't manage at all--and I think of myself as a great communicator! You're very wise, and I hope you write that book.

I will implement all the ideas (Karen, I'm getting out my timer...Maddiemom, I knew I'd saved all those colored index cards (leftover from the Sidetracked Sisters) for something!


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 7:49PM
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LOL!.. I did end up getting the bigger sized cards.. but go with what you have.. no need to add MORE clutter so you can get rid of some :)


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 9:01PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you. I could have written your original post on this thread. But I wasn't smart enough to post the problem here. I just kept beating myself up and going in and out of depression and getting hardly anywhere except now and then when I manage to set the timer and somehow do make progress (out of sheer luck).

You didn't mention money but part of my problem is I'm afraid we're going to run out of money before we finish everything I want to do so I prefer to bury myself in denial (and delay) somehow hoping that the money we are saving every month will help fill in the gap even though I have never sat down and really tried to figure out what kind of "gap" if any we're talking about. LOL (or maybe COL (crying out lout)).

Anyway, thanks to you and the others -Talley Sue, Maddiemom, Trekkaren- I've been re-energized.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 10:31PM
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