Imagine waking up ready to tackle your to-do list, and suddenly, overwhelm hits. Your once high-vibe energy is now zapped, and you feel paralyzed, unable to move forward. It’s safe to say we’ve all been there. But how do you stay on track, remove distractions, and center yourself amid your toppling responsibilities? In this article, you’ll learn exactly that; how to stay focused when you’re overwhelmed and kill every day with unstoppable productivity.
How to Stay Focused When You’re Overwhelmed
1. Turn off your phone
There’s nothing more distracting than sitting down to bust out a looming work project and hearing your phone ding with consistent notifications. Whether it’s texts from friends or a mash-up of social media notifications and emails, it’s sometimes hard to resist. Therefore, turn off your phone if possible, and if not, silence it and resist the urge. Doing so will allow you to concentrate and reduce the anxiety of stimuli around you. But if you’re struggling to detach from your phone, no worries. There are several tools and techniques to help you learn how to take a social media break to improve your mental health.
2. Recenter yourself
Why is it so difficult to stay focused when we’re stressed? When you’re anxious, your stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are surging through your body, keeping your sympathetic nervous system activated. The way out? Complete a breathing exercise for anxiety or follow a guided meditation to switch to your parasympathetic nervous system to help you feel calmer and more focused. Taking a much-needed mindful break will reduce the overwhelm and supercharge your productivity.
3. Take a movement break
Instead of pushing yourself, which can often increase stress and even lead to burnout, take a break by connecting yourself to your body. A movement break will provide the same effect as meditation or breathing and give you a beautiful blend of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to make you feel balanced and mentally healthy. But rather than hitting the gym, try at-home barre workouts or walk around your neighborhood. Exercising closer to home will allow you to disconnect from work instead of increasing your stress about preserving time.
4. Realign your priorities
It’s easy to believe that everything on your to-do list is a priority. Yet instead of thinking this way, sit down and honestly reflect on and organize your day based on your critical, important, and desirable priorities. For example, zoom meetings and strict deadlines are critical and outside of your control. And admin or organizing your finances are important but are low-effort. Therefore, try to complete these around your critical tasks to jumpstart a sense of accomplishment. Lastly, desirable priorities are the lowest priority tasks you want to do but can put off until your time and resources are higher, like outlining your goals or starting a new side hustle.
5. Take breaks with purpose
When we’ve hit our capacity to work any further, we need and deserve a nice break. But instead of watching Netflix, pick something productive that gives you a mental break yet still provides that reward of moving in the right direction. For example, if your main source of overwhelm is work but you’re still stressed about cleaning your home, making healthy school lunches for your kids, etc., take 20 minutes to make those lunches, clean your bedroom, or work out. Taking a break by crossing off an item on your to-do list provides a double dose of those proud-of-yourself vibes far more than rewatching an episode of Friends.
6. The pomodoro technique
One of the best ways to learn how to stay focused when you’re overwhelmed is to work in chunks, i.e. The Pomodoro Technique. Developed by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo, Pomodoro translates to tomato in Italian (How creative!), is a time management tool that organizes your work schedule in 25 minutes of continuous work with 5-minute breaks. Here’s how to practice it:
- Choose a task
- Set the timer to 25 minutes
- Work continuously until you hear the timer
- Reflect and review your results
- Take a 2-5 minute break
- Repeat the above steps until you’ve reached four consecutive Pomodoro work intervals
- Then reward yourself with a longer break of 15-30 minutes – You deserve it
7. Utilize distraction blocking apps
While this contradicts the first tip, “Turn off your phone”, using distraction-blocking apps when activated won’t allow you to open anything distracting, including social media. When you do try, a reminder will pop up and encourage you to keep working. These apps come in handy to help you resist the dopamine rush of watching endless YouTube videos, online shopping, and creating Pinterest boards to keep you focused and disciplined. Explore which one works best for you, and thank us later.
8. Listen to soothing music
If your level of overwhelm is bordering on the verge of anxiety, explore the wide range of 432 hz songs available to calm your nervous system. Listening to meditation music while working keeps you focused, deactivates your fight-flight-or-freeze stress response, and amplifies your productivity. Whether you work at home or in an office, soothing tunes can transform any overwhelming work day into a high-vibin happy day.
9. Release control
You’re not a superhero. You’re human. And this means you have limits to what you can handle and control. There will be days where your productivity is off the charts and others where a task or two is all you can muster. Both are acceptable. And normalizing both moods will allow you to release control and shower self-love when your energy isn’t at its highest or when life gets in the way.
Above all, remain hopeful and keep moving forward. Indeed, learning how to stay focused when you’re overwhelmed entails listening to your body when you need a break, removing distractions, realigning your priorities, and never give up. Whether small or big, each task you complete will lift the stress one step at a time. And as you keep swimming like Dory, you’ll notice the once overwhelming tasks now feel easier and less stressful. Hooray!
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you find these tips on how to stay focused when you’re overwhelmed helpful? We’d love it if you shared this post on Pinterest!
Looking for more mental health tips and tools? Make sure to follow our Mental Health board on Pinterest!