how I deal with feeling overwhelmed

These days I have a lot of stuff swimming around in my head. It's kind of a mess. Here's the Reader's Digest version: family reunion in a few weeks, move to Rhode Island in six weeks, the blog, Owen's July Project Life pages, Ben's allergy appointment, the kids' check-ups next week, dentist appointment for me before we move, laundry (always laundry!), summer photo book (from last year), buy a new car (?), booking next summer's vacation, two very good friends leaving on a 10-month deployment Friday, Nick's birthday, Ben's birthday, mom in town this weekend, blah, blah, blah. It's all too much! I have a tendency to stay on top of things in my head until I just can't anymore. When I get out of the habit of writing things down and attacking them a little at a time, they pile up and overwhelm me.

Here's what I do when I'm feeling this way:

One / Write it all down.

Yesterday, I broke out a notebook and wrote down as much as I could. I spent about ten minutes jotting down all the things I'd been worrying about without writing them down as a bullet-pointed list. These are not necessarily things "to do" (although many of them are). I don't need another to-do list to make me feel guilty at the end of the day. Some of them are events that are down the road that I just can't waste time worrying about today. The idea is to just get them on paper and out of your head.

Two / Circle the things that need immediate attention.

Hint: you can't circle all of them! On my list this week that included Nick's birthday (which is today) and Ben's birthday (which is Saturday). There are things I can do right now to lessen my stress level and things I can't deal with until later. And that's okay.

Three / Recognize the "big" things on the list and make note of what you've done with them or what you can do in the future.

These are the things that I know are taking up the most real estate in my head. For me, right now, our move across the country is a source of constant pressure. I put a star next to it on my paper. Then I took a few minutes to kind of think through it. Am I worried about something specific? What's causing the most stress related to it? Here's what I came up with: We're moving in October. That's actually happening. But I can't start packing today.

Maybe I can do something toward lessening the stress of the move, like getting rid of some baby clothes we don't need or decluttering Ben's closet. I jotted down some of the things we've already done toward the move: we're in good shape around the house, the movers are booked, the new lease is signed, and we've given notice in our current home. That's all good stuff, and it reminded me that I'm not as far behind as I think I am.

Four / Take action on the immediate items.

This week, that's the birthdays for sure. Well, babysitter was already booked for Nick's birthday tonight. Mom is coming into town to help with Ben's birthday Saturday. I made a grocery list for the weekend and bought a card for Nick while I was out in town today (um... so I'm a little behind on his birthday!). Presents have been ordered for Ben. Nick's gift is wrapped. We're doing pretty well, but there are still things to do. I made a little list and started ticking things off immediately. 

Five / Put it on the calendar.

For the remaining items, I make sure I give them calendar space. I wrote "book a dentist appointment" on the calendar for later in the week and I made sure I gave myself time to pack for the family reunion a few days before we leave. Putting stuff on the calendar means it's done, it'll remind me to do them, and now I don't have to waste time worrying about them.

So that's where I am this week - a little stressed and overwhelmed. But taking a few minutes to write it all down and work through some of it has helped. I'm staying off of Facebook and Bloglovin' today to try to get back on track with things. Hopefully by this time tomorrow I'll be feeling a little lighter. 

Do you get overwhelmed by The List? How do you deal with feeling that way?