You’re overwhelmed and you don’t know how you got to this point. Sudden chaos ! The house is a mess. My time is completely out of control. But I’m using the same systems I always have to organize my days … my desk… my time … What happened and what can you do about it now. And also next time, so you spot this earlier. This is really common. Changes keep happening to us and we just deal…. but end up in chaos. Perfectly normal. Read on for ways to read the signs before the storm hits.
“Sudden” Chaos – Chaotic Transitions
- Big AND small life changes or events cause chaos. With your “stuff,” meaning your things, thoughts or time. Something big and likely emotional has happened, a change you made or one that was foisted upon you. Either way, now you have something new to contend with and integrate into your life. (Divorce, death, care giving, marriage, children and so on.)
- We love our guests: Friends or family are in town for a few days or a longer visit. A temporary change, but think about it: your schedule will need to change; you’ll need to make space for people; you’ll need to be aware of their ‘stuff’ and where it shows up in your common living spaces; they will need things/time from you.
- The college-aged student or graduate returns home: You’ve lived the whole school year on your own, as has your student. Both of you more independent than when you last lived under the same roof.
- New responsibilities in your business or at work: There’s a ripple effect here. You’ll need to get organized for this new responsibility. But also realize that by adding a role, you don’t add extra hours to your days, so something has to give. What could you cut back on? Or stop doing? (Declutter that ‘to do’ list.) How will you reorganize your days to accommodate the new role? If you’ve stepped up into a management role, your involvement in tactics will need to drop, as you take on a bigger picture perspective. What do you need to accomplish this smoothly? How will you enlist coaches, your team and other good minds around you?
- A new physical diagnosis: How does the diagnosis impact your energy? Do you need to rearrange things at home/work to reduce the impact on your energy levels, making things easier to do? Do you need to reorganize meal planning? Reconsider how much you can fit into your days? What your morning routine entails? If you have a diagnosis such as lyme or MS, you’ll have days when your energy levels will be unpredictable: always have a plan A and a plan B for which type of day it is (and organize or mark your tasks that way, too.)
- A new mental health diagnosis: What does it mean for how you organize your days? Or keep track of things to do at work? And for medications, refills and appointments? Do you need to fit more exercise, mindfulness or meditation into your days – your self care? Are there different ways you need to work (formal/informal accommodations for your working style)? And how will you work through accepting that this is part of you and manage it.
Chaos to Calm – Suggestions
- Pause. Acknowledge the event or change. This allows you to plan for your changes, which makes you feel more in control of the change and lowers your negative stress about it.
- Any of these changes adds more to your life. And stress. Rely more than you typically might on your “external memory.” (Calendar, lists, notes, and reminders.) Memory commonly suffers when under stress.
- Sit down and make your list, diagram, or calendar – whatever you use to nore life – or if you don’t, now is the time to get it out of your head.
- Don’t hang on so tightly to how you have “always done things. ” Resistance creates stress. Let go a little bit.
- Asking for what you need gives you a sense of more control. Enlist others. Ask for quiet time. Get a little more sleep or take a nap. If you can’t exercise for an hour, at least try for half an hour, for example.
- Dealing with people is more important than dealing with our tasks and our things. So if your home or office needs to look like a tornado because you’re taking care of someone, give yourself guilt-free permission to let it go…. for a bit. Plan a time to reset your office or home soon though.
- What did you learn from this time to apply to the next big life event ? Reflect on it and you’ll remember it better for next time.
What is changing around you? How can you prepare ahead of time and hold off the storm? You can’t plan everything, but you can think ahead, if you want more calm in your days.
p.s. Please share this article if you know someone who is feeling overwhelmed, or invite them to talk with me about some next steps.