3 Unconventional Methods for Overcoming Overwhelm
Image by Sara V., available under CC BY 2.0.

3 Unconventional Methods for Overcoming Overwhelm

Written by Emilie

Topics: Podcast

4 weeks till I move to Portland:

  • 2 web design projects to finish (one I’ve hardly started).
  • Coaching to do.
  • Blog posts to publish.
  • Podcast episodes to record.
  • A new book to write.
  • A TV show to develop.
  • Canadian health insurance to take advantage of (i.e. doctors, specialists, dentists, etc. to see).
  • Friends to say goodbye to.
  • A life to pack up.

Holy… Overwhelm!

The Downside to Having Many Interests

There’s no need to preface this post with a long, drawn out explanation of what overwhelm is and how it can descend on you without warning. One second you’re in control, loving all your incredible projects. The next, it feels like your projects control you!

You know this feeling, I’m sure. So let just jump right in to the helpful part, shall we?

How do you get past the stress and anxiety to that peaceful focused state where you’re able to get sh*t done?

Listen to Today’s Episode of Undeclared for Life to find out!


Note: this episode is only 24 minutes long. We kept it short and to the point so that you could listen and then get on with your life.

Another idea: piggyback this podcast onto your daily chores. Listen as you make your lunch or walk to the store. No need for this to become another to-do on your list.

Your Turn

How do you handle overwhelm? Share your tips in the comments!


  1. Benny says:

    Nice to meet you last night!

    I was thinking the same thing today. I’m working on different things now that it does feel overwhelming when I think about it. Those things I’m working on I enjoy but just doesn’t seem like there enough time in the day. Then add in my j-o-b that has to get in the way. I’m doing all those other things so I can leave that job.

    So I don’t have the solution cause I understand how you feel! I just try and remind myself to do a little every day. Also I TRY to ask myself, if I only did one thing today what would that be? Then I start there. Because at least I’ll feel better if I make progress on that one important thing that day.

    Look forward to reading more about your TV show progress!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Benny,

      I definitely agree with you on all those strategies. I’ve used the one thing per day approach too, which can be really effective if you’re able to focus. I usually have to cycle between projects though. Or I’ll have 1 main project and then take “breaks” by working on other projects.

      Oh and I’ll definitely be posting more about the TV stuff soon! It’s actually driving me a little crazy because a lot is happening there, but I don’t feel like I can share too much publicly yet… Deals in the works, and such. :)

      It was really nice to meet you as well! Thanks for swinging by.

  2. Tessa Zeng says:

    I love this, Emilie and Abe! Totally have cycled through all of these subconsciously this past month, battling massive amounts of overwhelm. Thanks so much for pointing them out! The creative cycle is relentless, and playing with different ways to trigger it is an ongoing pursuit. Unconventional indeed :) it’s a pleasure to listen to you guys, love the podcast series!

    And gooooood luck, Emilie, with everything you’re doing! So excited for you… f I can ever help out, just let me know!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey, thanks Tessa! Nice to hear for ya. :)

      Yeah, triggering is big for me. I’d much rather be in control of my overwhelm and how it plays out, etc. than have it control me… If that makes sense.

      Glad you enjoyed our podcasting dynamic which, (to those who haven’t yet listened), went something like:

      Emilie: “Go cry!!!”

      Abe: “Or you know, work out…”

  3. Veronika says:

    Oh, I’m so glad I’ve found your blog, I also have what many consider to be far too many interests I would like to pursue and it’s good to find somebody else who understands the beauty of it. I’ll be spending some time this weekend browsing through your archives :)

  4. Lex Mosgrove says:

    Here’a a couple of thing that work for me… For once, it’s to get used to the idea that I can do all these things I want to do, and am not limited to do just one of them in this life. Remembering that ever so often does put things back in perspective for me.

    So, as long as I keep that in mind, I don’t get caught up in brooding over how massive a task my current projects are, and overwhelm isn’t really a problem. A problem I had until somewhat recently was not knowing exactly how to start (rather than where), but I think I got past that point now.

    Re: Resistance and hitting a low point – I had this for ages, that I seemed to need to hit a low point before I could really start anything, but I thought that was really time-consuming, not to mention the strain on my already somewhat fragile nerves (already having depressive episodes ever so often).

    So I decided to just go ahead regardless whether I felt ready or not, and so far that seems to work. It’s not the most productive time, but at least I don’t have to go through all the unnecessary drama.

    Another thing that works for me is to ask myself why I think that I SHOULD work, as opposed to WANT to work. As in, why I’m making this look like a chore to me, when it’s actually the most awesome thing to do EVAR (for me anyways).

    Taking away the pressure I’m creating myself (eg. I MUST get this done on time, I MUST get this right, I MUST … blah blah blah) really helps as well. Also, taking a couple of days off from time to time (I’m just reaching the end of my first vacation in years, which was only a week (less, actually, since I’m already working again), but I’m already full of new energy and ideas).

    Okay, I’m gonna shut up now. :)

    • Emilie says:


      I especially like your re-framing of shoulds to wants. I’ve written about that idea before and I think it’s really important and relevant here. The fact that we’re getting overwhelmed with awesome projects is pretty damn cool! Things could be a lot worse.

      It’s funny though, how as soon as I think “ok, time to get to work on this project”, my body has this immediate reaction that’s like: “Noooooo!!!!” Even if it’s a project that’s given me great joy in the past.

      I’ve learned to recognize that instinct as resistance, which helps a lot. I acknowledge it, re-frame as “I GET to do this” and plow on, like you said. Then I feel pretty awesome once I see that I was able to beat the monster.

      Thanks for chiming in Lex. How’s your empire building coming?

  5. Layla says:

    Writing REALLY bad country songs has helped me in the past!! :)

    Or giving my MISERABLE emotions to an unsuspecting story character or such (to really exaggerate and make myself laugh eventually – that’s why I have so many beginnings lol!! After I give all my problems to a character I’m ‘purged’ lol!!:)

    Interesting podcast!

    Sometimes lots of Wikipedia and YouTube can relax one too… :)
    (and help one find what to fight against or for again!! :)

    Leo Babauta has good tips on unplugging and walking too..

    Em, I admire you for being so open about crying! :)
    And Abe – LOVE ‘I’m a robot’ concept!! haha!!

  6. Seth says:

    This was a great episode. You two sounded like you were having so much fun, I found myself smiling for the rest of the afternoon.

    I’ve actually used the ‘sad movie reverse procrastination technique’ to great effect, with a slight variation; I live in the country, and there’s always some manual labor to do. Besides being great exercise, this work gives my subconscious a chance to turn problems over in my head.

    One of the better ways I’ve found to combat overwhelm is to write my goals and project next actions in my journal each morning. This helps me keep focused on what’s important and avoid all those unimportant little mole tasks that pop up, just begging to be whacked.

    • Emilie says:

      Heh yey! Glad we could make you giggle/cry, Seth. I’ve been saying “I AM A ROBOT” over and over the last few days. Heh.

      I like the goal journal idea. I do something similar before I go to bed- write down my goals for the next day. Definitely helps keep me on track. I just wake up, see what’s on the books and get going.

      Thanks for listening and posting feedback. You’re awesome. :)

  7. Layla says:

    Hey Em! &the gang! :)

    I came across another idea how to fight overwhelm: someone online actually suggested blogging is overwhelm-making (you need to blog on a consistent basis!) and that ‘totally passive’ (non-active) sites are better for ‘overwhelm management’! :)
    (You make’em and then let go..)

    (It was an ad for SiteBuildIt but…)
    I realized they have a point!! :)

    So I’m looking into Joomla and such to make non-blog sites :)

    Of course, people can have both, or a combination of blog/s + ‘conventional’ site/s (that can be updated regularly or not with ‘articles’ and ‘news’ etc too!)

    I also ADORE some sites that are built on non-blogging platforms so I’m seriously thinking about this! :)
    (Some are VERY scanner-like too!!:)

    What are your thoughts on this? ;)

  8. Faith says:

    Thanks for tweeting this post today Emilie. I am going to embrace everything about being a multipotentialite.

    Okay I think I’ve got it. I am a robot. No wait, I am the Incredible Hulk! Thank you for the entertaining and helpful advice.

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