By: Staci Stallings
Don’t you just love God’s sense of humor?
I’ve been planning for this article for several days, and boy, have I been using this one today! After running here, there, and yonder with my son on Tuesday (shopping, Sylvan, and gymnastics), I took three of us to get body tune-ups yesterday only to come home to my oldest sprawled in the living room–stuff everywhere! She had been tasked with learning to make bows for her grandparents’ (my parents’) 50th Anniversary in a week.
So in the midst of bows, picture frames, pictures, a book blast with CrossReads, bills needing paid, a newsletter to get out, prayers to write for my parents’ service, this blog to write, two author friends needing promotional help…
I find myself writing this article.
Several years ago (about 15, before God rescued me from myself!), I would get myself into these same kinds of messes. Overwhelm would quickly set in, and with me, overwhelm often tempts me to shut down completely. I remember many times of telling myself the mantra for today:
If you think you’re drowning,
It’s the only way you’ll get out alive!
Many times over the years I have said this to myself to keep me going when honestly there was so much to do, it would be literally impossible to get it all done. Remarkably, I’m sure many things have not gotten done over the years that I wanted to do or thought I had to do.
But I’ve learned not to quit because it looks overwhelming. All that does it make it even MORE overwhelming.
So like I told a friend the other day, when you’re doing something that looks overwhelming, decide to do 5 pieces of it.
For example, say I have a stack of bills to pay. Instead of brow-beating myself into paying all of them, I resolve to do five. Five makes a good dent in them, but it’s also doable.
Sometimes I extend this and give myself three to five tasks to do off of my list. I write them down before I get up from my desk (so when I get back, I don’t have to spend time trying to figure out what’s next most important). Right now, my short list looks like this:
Now my extended list has about 20 things on it, but looking at that, I get overwhelmed. So this shortened list gives my work time focus. It keeps me swimming without looking at how far the shore is away from where I am.
I do this in life as well.
Once I was driving my sister to a town about 2 hours away for a test. That morning when we got up, I was supposed to take antibiotics. Not realizing at the time I needed to take half the prescription more times a day to avoid being sick, I took the whole pill and we left.
That was a LONG drive!
As my body fought being sick, I determined I would have to mentally overcome this because quitting was not an option. They were counting on me. It was dark, so I would choose an overhead light about a mile in the distance and tell myself, “I can make it to there.” I’d drive, distracting myself with songs on the radio, praying, breathing, etc. We’d pass that light, and I’d say to myself, “Well, I made it that far. I know I can make it to the next one.”
That lasted over an hour until we made it, she took (and passed) the test, and eventually I got to feeling better.
So if you feel like you’re drowning in a swell of “things to do,” choose something. ONE thing and break that down into five smaller pieces. Do those.
Laundry stacked up? Fold five things. Take a breath and realize you got started. YAY! Do five more. You will be surprised how quickly you start being excited that this is actually getting done!
So keep swimming. When you get where you’re going, you will always be able to see farther!
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— Staci Stallings (@StaciStallings) December 5, 2013