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O is for Overwhelmed

O is for Overwhelmed
This entry is part 15 of 27 in the series A to Z

Whew, this week it just hit me: I’m overwhelmed.

My wife is away for two weeks and my dad is in town so I have more responsibilities and am playing host on top of it. We’re having some work done in the house, so there are four guys in and out all day. We moved the kids out of their room while we redo their floors. So that means we have the entire contents of their room in the living room in piles. It’s also unnerving to just see in front of your eyes how much stuff we have. I have a huge 4-month naming project on top of my already busy day job. I’m delegating actually better than I ever have before, but still. I could go on and on, but it just hit me: I’m going to need to prioritize, weed out, and take control (of my inbox especially).

I don’t want to just list all that’s going on in my life. How do you handle overwhelm? If you’re dog paddling and barely staying afloat, how do prioritize and take your life back?

I’m kinda sick of it, though. My usual answer or solution is to work harder, work more, get up earlier, stay up later! But those are Band-Aid solutions. What’s at the core of the problem? In my opinion, I simple say Yes too often. I say yes even when I don’t have the capacity to get the job done. Not just work, but kids, friends, commitments, social, education, the whole thing. We just have too much going on. Does everybody?

It has stayed with me when listening to an interview at Traffic School of Leo Babauta of Zen HabitsΒ where Leo said, in passing, that he had one thing to do that day. It wasn’t the point of the interview or anything, it was just a comment. But it hit me hard. I know someone who has one thing to do in a day: my dog. My dog is interested in playing. That’s it. That’s his thing. His life is so simple. I envy the simplicity of it. I feel like I have one thing to do every minute.

I’m also writing this as evidence. I don’t often admit that I’m overwhelmed. Sure, I’m always busy, but I like to think (and admit) that I have it under control. I currently don’t. I don’t like the feeling. This is evidence that it needs to get better. I’ll look back to it in the near future for how much things have improved. There, done, moving on. Back to “work.”

This is what my brain currently look like under the microscope.

This is what my brain currently look like under the microscope.

P.S. You might say that I could Stop Writing Every Day. That would free up some time to work on the other items cluttering my life. But frankly, that’s the last thing I want to get rid of. In some ways, it’s what’s keeping me sane, it’s the only stable straight line I have going right now. Everything else is a free for all. Hmm, interesting, I just realize this. Writing every day has helped me in so many ways. Maybe there’s something to that. Hmm.

Series Navigation<< N is for NaiveP is for Proverb >>

About The Author


I don't like to call them excuses. They're priorities. With a handful of exceptions, we usually have a choice in our actions. They just need to be prioritized.


  1. Jules

    hi Bradley ~ like you I am overwhelmed, but I don’t want to stop writing. I was posting, but for the month of April I am doing the challenges. My friends think I’m nuts, which is probably true. Anyhow, I’m busy with the kids, starting renovations with the kitchen (demo starts monday), a whole bunch of school things and need to pump out a poem every day….I too have more than one thing to do today. This is a great post. Enjoy spending time with you dad. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    • Bradley

      You know what also helps? Knowing others are in the same boat. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, it makes a difference.

  2. Another Clean Slate

    You can’t stop doing something that is giving you emotional strength to deal with all the rest!

    • Bradley

      You’re so right! If I gave up the one bit of sanity, I’d be headed for the padded cell. πŸ˜‰

  3. Tara Tyler Robinson (@taratylertalks)

    dont stop writing! it keeps you from going over the edge when you’re overwhelmed! and your day sounds like my every day! except for the house guest. i exist in chaos, but have to make time for me or i’d be miserable & make my family miserable too. i get done what i can!

    your a to z posts all start with a great thought provoking question or phrase. enjoying reading them!

    • Bradley

      Thank you so much for saying, “Don’t stop writing!” It’s such a vote of confidence and so important. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Ida Chiavaro Reflex Reactions

    Perfect word for O Bradley. I don’t have a lot to do at the moment, well basically nothing since there is a teacher lockout in Denmark (3 weeks and still no end in sight) So no classes for me, I think people get attached to being busy – a good way of getting off that train is doing exactly what you did today… πŸ™‚

    • Bradley

      Hi Ida,

      I think you’re right that people get attached (or even addicted) to being busy. I’ve been busy for so long, I’m not sure what it’s like to not be busy. No, that’s not true, last summer wasn’t busy. This summer won’t be overly busy either. Just another six weeks. But I need to work on post-summer not getting out of control again.

      Good luck with the teacher lockout!

  5. Cindy Dwyer

    Hang in there, Bradley. Once the work around your house is done I bet you’ll feel better. It’s hard to relax amid chaos, so that’s making it easier for everything else to overwhelm you.

    I know what you mean about writing. Definitely do not cut things which recharge and energize you.

    • Bradley

      I’m currently kicked out of the kitchen and upstairs! Went out for pizza tonight … kids didn’t exactly complain. πŸ˜‰

      I can’t cut writing now, I’ve developed a rhythm.

  6. The Next Step

    I try to write every day, but I don’t publish every day. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get it just right. Sometimes, it flows quickly and then I post and go back and edit a few days later. I love how writing can be so fluid.

    • Bradley

      I think I’ve grown into the habit of hitting publish every day, knowing that people are going to see it so it not only forces me to actually hit publish, it truly twists my arm–and often makes me spend those extra minutes–to tweak it just a bit more. In an ideal world, I’ll come back to my favorites and embellish them.

      Most often, as you say, writing can be so fluid. You get started and who knows where you’ll end up. That’s the fun part.

  7. Shirletta Armstrongs

    Love the name of your blog and I love sour cream! πŸ™‚
    I too am feeling a bit overwhelmed lately and trying to hold on to the little thread that is dangling before me. We can do it. As Dory (Finding Nemo) says “just keep swimming. just keep swimming.”

    Shirletta @ Shirleyisnotmyname

    • Bradley

      Hi Shirletta,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. The name of the blog was one of those quickie decisions, but it stuck and I’m sticking with it. I love sour cream and oddly haven’t posted about it much. Hmm, maybe that should be my S word for tomorrow.

      Or maybe we should follow Dory’s advice and “S” should be for Swimming!

      Hold onto that little thread and we’ll eventually beat the overwhelm.

  8. sherilee

    Your comment above (in response to Ida) about people being addicted to busy resonates with me–I’ve often referred to busy-ness as a badge of importance, a currency that measures “something”… how much people need me? Value me? I too get overwhelmed and find that I’ve undoubtedly brought it on myself–usually–and just have to sit down and make a few hard choices to bring myself back into alignment.

    • Bradley

      I’m just as guilty. I can’t imagine being not busy. But I know when I am (not busy) that I do appreciate it and try to remember it back in the overly-busy-world that I liked it when I wasn’t so busy. If that made any sense …


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