How this simple exercise can help you prioritize and deal with intense overwhelm
Have you ever been hit by a wall of paralysis that made you feel like you shouldn’t couldn’t prioritize? Maybe you got big news (good or bad), and emotions you didn’t know how to deal with efficiently overwhelmed you. Or maybe you were juggling an amazing amount of puzzle pieces and one more puzzle piece fell on you and you just couldn’t anymore. Or maybe you got sick. Whatever the cause, sometimes we can be in the zone, happily spinning plates like a dj, and the next minute we’re staring at the wall or our computer screen, feeling like an army of bulldozers is about to stampede over us and we don’t know where to run.
This happened to me this week. We got the amazing news that we have official referral for our sweet daughter—to be her parents. And with it came a bunch of exciting steps. First there was overwhelming emotion. Shock, happy tears, a tension release headache, then overwhelm about administrative next steps all followed. In addition, I still had my full time job, personal care for the entire family, school, Owl Paper, house stuff, and book stuff.
And the chaos my mind was juggling fragmented into even more pieces and I stopped. I could not get unstuck. I couldn’t prioritize. Everything felt overwhelmingly important. The excitement left me with a bit of adrenal fatique. I stared at the wall. I stared at my screen. In addition, my old phone broke, my new phone came, and because of a weird account setup, I spent hours trying to get into it so I could do simple life administrative things (like navigate—I had to cancel medical appointments to I wouldn’t get lost without my gps).
Divide the page into quadrants, sextants, or septants.
This morning I divided my life into 7 bullet journal septants. Not as much fun to say as quadrants, but it will have to do. I put the next 3-4 things on each septant. I put a tiny whale sticker in the bottom right corner, and decided to use highlighters as I crossed each item off.
Prioritize: follow your heart while using hard deadlines as guides.
Now I could prioritize. I felt the weight of the items lift as I realized I wasn’t going to forget. Just seeing it all laid out brought relief. I could tackle one at a time and see my progress. And I wasn’t compartmentalizing. I loved seeing all 7 areas at once and knowing I could take the next one that was most urgent and do it. It suited the way I prioritize.
Little things, like the colorful highlighters I used to cross of tasks large and small, and taking tiny brain breaks between one or two tasks, were all signals to my brain that everything was okay and I was winning against the cheetah of overwhelm from which I had just escaped. Nothing big and bad was going to happen to me or my family while I sat and stared out the window.
Do you have any life bullet journal life hacks to share? What are some of your favorite spreads: I’d love to see them! Tag me on instagram at @owlpaperjournal!
For more about how bullet journaling can bring more peace to your life, check out these posts.