1. Stop overestimating how much it's possible to get done.
I'm not working. By Quinn Dombrowski
If you find yourself dreading the day ahead, ask yourself if you're overestimating how much it's possible to get done in the time you have available.
If you're imagining yourself getting 16 hours work done in the next 8 hours, no wonder you will be feeling a sense of dread.
2. Identify your single most important task for today.
Judge your day based on whether you got this one thing done. This will help counteract the avoidance coping tendency, whereby we put off the hardest tasks.
3. If you feel so overwhelmed by your most important task that you're going to avoid it, bite off a smaller chunk of it.
Identify a step in your most important task that feels manageable. The manageable chunk might be as simple as making a phone call or writing an email.
4. There will be some days when doing any work on your most important task feels overwhelming.
It's ok to blow off your most important task for a day or two if you need to get some mental space to be able to deal with it (obviously unless it's something like submitting your tax return by the due date!).
Start exploring what works for you for getting that mental space. A nap can help. Read this info about how naps improve emotional coping.
You can also test whether you really do need more mental space to get started by just doing a tiny bit of your most important task.
5. If you're going to blow off your most important task, make sure you've identified what the next required step is.
Planning and doing both takes mental energy and willpower. Take care of the planning aspect today even if you're feeling too overwhelmed to start the doing.
6. Talk to yourself kindly about your emotions and thoughts.
Talk to yourself kindly about the emotions you're feeling.
For example, "I'm feeling overwhelmed and nervous. These are difficult feelings. It's ok that I'm feeling these feelings."
Also talk to yourself kindly about your thoughts.
For example, "I'm having lots of doubts. My confidence is wobbling all around the place. I'm finding it hard to concentrate and focus on something I feel nervous about. Lots of other competent people have these experiences too. I'm going to give myself all the kindness I need to cope with these thoughts and feelings."
If you liked this article
If you liked this article, you'll probably like this one on 50 Common Cognitive Distortions.
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photo credit: I'm not working. By Quinn Dombrowski