Episode #13

Working Through Overwhelm

When you’re in a season of overwhelm you might feel like all you’re doing is putting out fires, and nothing is getting accomplished. On this episode I’m sharing how to work through the overwhelm and move the needle forward. 


Are you at a point in your semester where overwhelm is taking over? If you are having trouble figuring out where to put your energy, distinguishing between what is important and what is urgent, or you can’t seem to decide what to focus on, you might be struggling with overwhelm. I’ve got some advice and practical ideas for cutting through the distractions and staying on track.


Combating General Overwhelm

When you’re feeling like nothing is getting done and you can’t focus, it’s important to set yourself up to make progress where you can. Here are some simple ways to do that.

1. Do a brain dump. Find a place that is easy to access and write down All The Things. Put everything on this list that is bumping around in your brain and stressing you out. I recommend making the list somewhere that is easily accessible when you need to add to it, like the notes app on your phone or Trello.

2. Pick 3 things each day to get done. At the end of each day, peruse your master list of to-do’s from the brain dump and pick just 3 things that can reasonably get done the next day. Be sure that you are picking small manageable tasks (grade 5 papers, read an article for review, etc.) and not projects (do all the grading, write an article, etc.). 

“Checking 100% of the things off the list is actually not the goal.”


Writing Through the Overwhelm

Your writing is often one of the first things to suffer when you are in overwhelm. Getting realistic and paring back is the best way to keep your practice going. Here’s how.

1. Use your “tiger time”. Tiger time is your best, most focused and energetic time. During seasons of overwhelm it’s vital that you use your best time for writing. In episode 2 I walk you through the process for finding your own tiger time, and why you don’t need to write everyday.

2. Dial back to the basics. Don’t try to write every day! For now, dedicate 1-2 hours per week during your tiger time to writing and no more. 


Things to Remember During Seasons of Overwhelm

  1. Plan in advance. Taking just 10 minutes at the end of the day to choose your 3 things for the next day will save you headache and help you focus.
  2. Be realistic about what can get done in a period of time. (Check out episode 3 for ideas on how to break writing down into manageable tasks.)
  3. Go back to basics. Dial back your writing to a few productive hours, and reign in extra time on teaching and service as well.
  4. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a break during these seasons, and always!


We are looking for coachable, dedicated, pre-tenure women on the tenure-track who are open to our vision of an academic experience free from guilt and overwhelm to join my Amplify program. If you are interested in support and professional development and would flourish as part of a deeply connected community, click here for more information.


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