Nothing makes us happier than welcoming one of the original RMW brides back into the fold so it's fab to have Naomi with us today. In her own words, Naomi has 'technically been on honeymoon since 2011' and joins us today from Australia where she spends her time teaching creatives how to balance productivity, creativity & pleasure. If feeling overwhelmed usually results in you heading to bed (which is one of my tactics) then this article is for you. Over to Naomi...
Hello, my name is Naomi and I am a massive procrastinator. I get overwhelmed easily and as if that wasn’t quite enough, I also occasionally suffer from bouts of anxiety.
So naturally, when my son was only 6 weeks old and my husband was working 13 hour days, 6 days a week, I decided to quit my job and start my own graphic & web design business. Considering the nature of my person, this meant one thing... I needed to learn how to juggle it all and I needed to learn fast.
Thankfully, almost two years later... Both my business and my baby are intact and thriving. I can also say that I’ve learnt so much about overwhelm, procrastination, anxiety and what these things mean for productivity. So much so, that I now have a serious action plan in place that helps me motor through my to do list most days and stay relatively sane while doing it.
Charlotte thought it would be fun to bring this conversation over to Rock My Style so we can all have a good chinwag about the demands of life, feeling overwhelmed and how in the name of coco pops, we can all learn to relax about it.
It usually begins when Overwhelm comes knocking at my door, my first reaction is to freeze and/or panic about the amount of things I need to do. Then his good old friend Procrastination comes to join the party. So I end up ignoring my to do list and go hunting for good old Motivation and Inspiration to get me back on course. Usually I think I’ll find my Motivation in one of the following places:
- Checking email for the 16th time
- Reading Facebook posts
- Thumbing through Instagram
- Cleaning out my wardrobe
- Making tea
- Eating chocolate
I do these things with the best of intentions to snap back to it soon, but ironically spend the whole time worrying about the amount of things that await me when I find my Motivation again. After catching myself repeat this pattern thousands of times, I’ve figured out the six things I need to focus on to prevent being stuck in the company of Overwhlem and Procrastination all day.
The very first thing I do when I start to feel overwhelmed is break out the paper and pen. I spend 10 minutes writing down everything that comes to mind. Everything. Pay that electricity bill, buy Sarah’s birthday present, get dresses dry cleaned, buy more teabags, call internet company, vacuum bedrooms, write HuffPost article, wash bedsheets... (That was literally what’s on my mind right now). With everything mapped out in front of me, I aim to delegate about a third to my husband (we are a team after all) and then I look at my calendar and decide realistically (key word here) when I can get to the rest.
I have a block of time set aside each week that is purely for being with people. Saturdays. Morning consists of breakfast with my boys, the afternoon is usually spent catching up with friends and the evening is pure, quality time with my man. No phone checking, no to do lists, no email, just the people I adore, all day long. This time is absolutely non-negotiable and I find it fuels my focus for the rest of the week.
I know the RMS girls are big proponents of clean eating (most of the time!). And I am also on board. But since we all know that we need our veggies etc. Let’s focus on two different areas that have been the most life changing for me in terms of increasing energy... Water and Sleep. *eyeroll* Boring, right? We all know we should be drinking 8 glasses of water a day. But I am telling you now, out of all my research, the absolute number one thing that prevents me from focusing and spirals me into overwhelm... Is dehydration. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re feeling scattered, go and get a big glass of water and tank it. I guarantee you’ll feel fresher and more focused almost immediately. As for sleep, I’m not a big fan of telling people how much sleep they need to get. That's just a slap in the face to new Mums and night owls. What I will say is, make sure the sleep you DO get is quality sleep. To do this, try not to look at screens for at least 15 minutes before bed and make sure your room is super dark and clear of clutter. It’s a whole post of its own, but trust me, my morning energy levels have skyrocketed since I started paying attention to sleep quality over sleep quantity.
I’ve been trying to write this post for RMS all morning, I’ve been mulling over the points in my head, but couldn’t quite get it to appear on screen. Then I got overwhelmed. Went to get my glass of water (I’m telling you, it works) and looked around at my house. It was a bomb site. Not a bit of wonder I couldn’t work properly! So I set my kitchen timer for 10 minutes and tidied in that speed you can only seem to achieve when you know someone’s on their way over. When I stepped back and admired my nice tidy space (albeit with dirty floors) I felt more energised and ready to work. So if you find yourself procrastinating by tidying up your desk or doing the washing, do it. Because that clutter is clearly on your mind and robbing you of the focus you need for the tasks at hand. But always set yourself a time limit.
This is my favourite one. How much information are you taking in from other people? If you’re reading Buzzfeed, Facebook, Blog Lovin, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or your other productivity poison of choice, it’s not a bit of wonder that you may have no room left in your head for your own tasks. Remember that every time you check social media, you’re consuming other people’s lives and choices, but delaying your own. In saying that, I am the girl that lies in bed checking Instagram when I wake up, it makes me happy and inspired to start my own day. But to combat the time suck, I make sure it’s for no longer than 5 minutes. I also subscribe to no more than 10 of my fave blogs (RMS & RMF hold two of those spots obvs) but I have them delivered to my inbox, so I don’t get lost in the land of blog feeds. All in all, I am SUPER conscious of taking up brain space with other people’s information. Because the internet was clearly invented to distract us from our own lives. And man does it well.
The last tip I have is probably the most important. If you’re not making time to do things on a daily basis that bring you pure enjoyment, there’s a good chance your brain is going to check out of the things you need to get done. For some (Charlotte) that’s exercise, for others it’s looking through interior design magazines, playing video games, watching soaps, scrapbooking, baking, reading etc. We all need to allocate downtime that makes us happy. And it doesn’t have to be hours on end, it can be 20 minutes out of the day. I find that if I give myself some real downtime, it feels indulgent and luxurious. It took a while for the “But I should be doing that” guilt to subside, but now I know the benefits to my productivity, I never miss my 20 minute fiction break on the couch.
You’ll notice that all of the points above spell out the word C.R.E.A.T.E. This is for two reasons. One, I need an acronym that makes it easy to remember when I feel overwhelmed and two, it reminds me that I am more than capable of changing my own mindset. That at any point, (be it first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon), I can choose to take back control of my time. I always get to create my day, my way.
I’d love to know if you procrastinate or feel overwhelmed as much as I do? Do you think you’ll give any of the tips above a go? Or maybe you already swear by some of them?
Article by Naomi Liddell