Systems and Dealing with Overwhelm

Since I returned home from the Readers Studio last Monday, I’ve had so much to write about. Namely, my experiences at the convention. In between writing those posts, comes all the other stuff that wants my attention. And while I “should be working” on those things, what’s caught my attention right now, is this post on how I deal with “overwhelm” and how I knock things off my list.

TL;DR version: I’m not sure if what I write below is a system, but I do have a daily order to getting things done. Breathing helps, so does focusing the attention on where the passion lies and then working on one thing at a time.

I don’t deal well with overwhelm. I love having lots of projects going on at once but of course, this means that occasionally they collide and I feel lost and overwhelmed with it all and wish I can do it all, when i know i can’t. Today is one of those days.

My current writing to-do list looks like this:


  • Write RS11 posts (about 5 of them)
  • Continue writing ETT book draft
  • Write emails to peeps
  • Work on reviews for W&P
  • Write potential tarot essay for publications.

Earlier, I posted this to my Twitter feed:

Feeling overwhelmed with all the things I gotta write and catch up on. It’s another hunker down and do it day.

Which got this response on Facebook from a friend:

Would love to know how you deal with that. Do you have a ‘system’ or other advice?

To tell you the truth, there is no real cut and dry thing to how I get so much done. I’m not even sure I have a system. I do keep a list of everything I want to do in a day but I don’t really nail it down with priorities. Setting priorities usually backfires on me because while I may set a deadline, my mind will want to work on the bottom thing. So I’ve decided not to do this unless I have a HUGE external deadline looming.

I usually work on a project until I run out of steam, or need feedback, or whatnot. This allows me to rotate through various projects during the day and never allows me to feel bored.

All this said, however, I do have some bits of a system that I do daily that gives me large chunks of time for writing.

First thing every morning, I go exercise. Running is my meditation and it allows me that sacred 30 minutes of having no thoughts fluttering through my mind. My mind is so hyper that there are times when I wish I could turn it off.Lately I’ve been adding 15 minutes of weightlifting and another half hour of stationary bike into the mix.

Once I’m done with the exercise, I stay out and about to complete any errands. This includes library runs, post office runs, groceries, etc. I find that if I don’t get the out of house items done, then these tasks weigh on my mind and nothing “gets done” at home.

Once I am at home, I take some time to check email and then clear out the social media clutter. I’m horrible at replying sometimes, so I do a quick scan to make sure I’ve written a response that needs to be addressed. (I usually try and respond to things in 24 hours or less. If not, it’s because I feel overwhelmed and have no idea what to say.)

Then I look at my writing to-do list and pick one item that can be completed in short time. Usually, this is a blog post or email. Something to get the juices flowing and the achievement meter up. Sometimes, I’ll fire up the industrial music and pick a good hard beat to get the juices going. Having the music pumped in through headphones also helps to focus that energy.

Once quick items are out of the way, I get to the long-term projects. These I work on in small chucks– half hour to an hour. Doing short bursts of energy on these projects gives me the ability to feel like I’ve worked on them, as well as giving my body a break from being at the keyboard for so long. I sometimes forget to breathe, so this regime also allows me the time to breathe and refocus energies to the next item on the list.

I also try not to write past the time my hubby comes home. I want to reserve the time during the evenings for him and me. So far, it’s worked pretty well.

Feel free to post any questions about this… until then, I’m off to work on those Readers Studio posts!

2 thoughts on “Systems and Dealing with Overwhelm

    1. You are most welcome Andrew. Your question made for a good post and I hope my scatter-brained thoughts helped out a bit. Of course, now that I’m home and in the “writing” zone… I’m finding it hard to really organize my thoughts for those posts. I think I’ll work on my book for a bit instead.

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