Five years ago, I was still working in finance. My team of twelve had three members out on maternity leave, and the other nine of us were drowning. We were responsible for the movement of billions of dollars worth of securities, and it was predictably high-pressure, noisy, and chaotic.
One day, my two workflow coordinators and I retreated to a windowless office to make a plan. We mapped out everything that needed to get done, and we did the math. We stared at the white board as it became increasingly clear, the math did not work out. There was no way everything was going to get done.
I felt resentful that we were in that position. I felt guilty that I had to “put my team through that,” although they knew it wasn’t my fault. I felt exhausted because we’d been pushing hard for months (years?) already.
And yet, it was also empowering to see it laid out in front of us, in black and white.
Here’s the thing: The quality of our energy and attention is directly related to how much mental clutter we’re carrying around. It’s not the only thing, of course, but it’s an often-overlooked and highly-impactful piece of the puzzle.
And it’s actually easier to control than many of the externals! You can’t control management’s decisions at work.
You can’t control your kiddo waking you up four times in one night.
You can’t control traffic, or crowds, or the internet.
But you can definitely learn to eject the mental clutter that makes it all feel even more overwhelming.
So, how do we do that?
There’s a temptation to just start making lists, but that can turn into its own form of overwhelm because although our brains love organized input, they don’t necessarily give us organized output. At least not on the first try. We don’t automatically think in a nice, linear, organized fashion.
In this free guide, I share the technique we used all those years ago, which has been a sanity-saver over and over again.
It allows you to take the chaos in your brain and translate it onto paper. We remove the constraints so your thoughts can flow freely. Every task, every idea, every question, worry, dream, and desire can go on this one sheet of paper. That paper will look chaotic, but chaos on paper is better then chaos in your head!
Then, once the chaos is on paper, you can think clearly to plan and prioritize. You can turn it into something functional and beautiful.
This exercise feels magical to me every time I do it.
Things immediately feel less overwhelming. It allows things to come to the surface that have been banging around in the back of your mind. And it frees up mental space that allows you to be more present and engaged in your life today.
Even if you do need to make some tough decisions, it’s always easier when you see it in black-and-white.
Click here to download yours and give it a try. Then come back here and ask yourself these questions:
- What is weighing on you? If you could immediately stop one thing, what would it be?
- If you don’t change anything, how do you suspect your time will be spent? Are you happy with that?
- What is your capacity? How full do you want this summer to be? Or is there a situation that is drastically impacting your capacity?
Be honest with yourself.
When we took a photo of that white board and shared it with my boss, it changed the conversation. Up until that point, our requests to bring on temporary help had been routinely dismissed, but the math made it clear that something had to give. Something was going to change.
In retrospect, I wish I’d also expressed stronger boundaries for my own time. I wasn’t honest with myself about what I needed. I dismissed the very idea that I could have what I needed, and therefore didn’t communicate it. Then I watched over the years as others were given the very things I’d needed.
The clarity of seeing how you spend your time, versus how you want to spend your time, is the beginning of a powerful process. One intentional decision at a time, you can turn that clarity into a new reality.
I’m here to walk with you through that journey. My mission is to help you catch your balance, find your path, and move forward with peace and purpose. If you feel like your life is out of control, and you’re too overwhelmed to find the way forward, click here to schedule a free consultation. I would love to talk with you!