How can you break down the task in front of you?
So often in the world overwhelm stops us before we even begin. It’s too big. It’s too hard. It’s too scary. We are great at talking ourselves out of things.
Often when things seem too big and too scary, we’re looking at the whole picture at once, and that can be incredibly overwhelming. When we break it down though, it becomes more manageable, and if we do just one piece at a time, it becomes completely doable.
A year ago I worked with a hoarder who had just that issue. After dealing with the reasons for accumulating and holding on to things, she was ready to let them go, but had the mammoth task of cleaning out rooms so full she couldn’t even get into them. Just thinking about it was enough to cause overwhelm and a sense of despair at having no idea where to even start. I asked her to focus in on just one small thing and deal with just that one thing. In fact I made it a rule to not look at the whole lot at once, to just look at that one thing. She chose a set of mugs that were still in their box and which she had no need for. They were easily accessible and she decided to give them away as a present to a friend who was moving into a new flat. She then realised her friend might be in need of a number of things at once and started thinking of other things that were also within reach. All of a sudden the barrier of overwhelm was gone and she was able to focus in on things she could deal with. Constant effort of this kind was needed, but consistently focusing on the small thing in front of her and dealing with these things one at a time meant that within a few months she had reclaimed the kitchen, the lounge and a guest bedroom, feeling proud to have guests over to stay.
Often life is like this. The task in front of us seems huge. However if we break it down into little pieces and focus on doing one piece at a time, the task becomes much more doable. Furthermore, doing the first task gives us much more clarity and motivation around doing the second, and that momentum continues to gather with each step we take.
So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with the task in front of you, break it down. Identify the first small step you need to take towards that task, and just do that step. Then, identify the second step and take that one. This keeps the task manageable and keeps you resourceful around doing it, plus before you know it you’ll find the task is well underway and the path before you is much clearer, making the task far more likely to be completed in the end.