Good Advice For The Overwhelmed

8 May

So far this week I have stripped down the bathroom, scrubbed and painted and reassembled it; cleaned and tidied the garden, cut the grass and weeded; been to a car boot sale; on several long walks with my dogs and a short walk with my husband (back from dropping off the car for a service); hosted an anxious friend; prepared a week’s daily jokes in advance and a couple of filler posts.

I have 277 emails to deal with (down from 337 this morning at nine); all of my kitchen cupboards to rearrange into a better, more compact system; and some shopping for new accessories for the bathroom (most people do that in advance but I spent the last spare money on paint and had to wait for the latest spare money for the accessories).

I’m feeling overwhelmed so I am going to follow the excellent advice my friend Pam always slaps me around with when I’m riding the crazy train:

What is the smallest thing I can do?

Doing a small thing is doable, manageable, possible; it allows me to do one thing, one time.  I can cope with that.

It works like this: you want to book a holiday but it’s a daunting task because you’ve never done such a thing before.  What is the smallest thing you can do?

Answer: Choose the destination.

You want to choose the destination; what is the smallest thing you can do?

Answer: Go to the travel agent and pick up some brochures.

And you carry on like that.

So, I want to reduce my emails from 277 to its standard position of under-100.

What is the smallest thing I can do?

Answer: Write a blog post about it.  

WRONG!  There are no wrong answers, of course, if the activities help to reduce the giant mountain to a tiny molehill…but procrastination tends to have the opposite effect.  I’ll try again.

Answer: Read one cartoon email; then delete it.

Emails are down to 276 but I’m sweating bullets at the enormity of the many tasks before me; what is the smallest thing I can do?

Answer: Take a shower.

See you on the other side.  For goodness’ sake, don’t email me while I’m gone.

A colllision between two protons in the Large Hadron Collider

I use this illustration from CERN to boast about my friend’s son, who is spending a part of his PhD study time there.  No small achievement.

47 Responses to “Good Advice For The Overwhelmed”

  1. Viveka at 13:51 #

    There is a small button on the keyboard … reading – delete. *smile …


  2. viv blake at 13:52 #

    Phew! You got me panting with all that effort. I couldn’t begin to do a tenth of all that. And I’m very sorry – I really didn’t know, or I’d have kept it to myself – but I sent you an email before lunch. Loved (and stole) the picture.


  3. mairedubhtx at 13:52 #

    I’d feel overwhelmed if I had that many emails too. I’d probably just delete them all. That’s a big something. Of course I’d probably miss something important by doing that. Good grief!


  4. Karen Snyder at 14:07 #

    I’ve done several small things this morning, so that must mean I’m ahead of the game! 🙂 Breathe!! It will all sort itself out eventually, and what you don’t get done probably isn’t really worth worrying about anyway!


  5. judyt54 at 14:14 #

    my dad gave me one piece of advice that i live by, always. When youre confronted with a seemingly insurmountable amount of stuff to do, put your head down and concentrate ONLY on what you can see in front of you. Now and then glance up, not to see how much more you have but how far youve come.


  6. laurieanichols at 15:31 #

    I’m tired just reading about how industrious you have been.:) You do have an excellent piece of advice and thank you for sharing it!


  7. slpmartin at 15:41 #

    Now if you weren’t so popular you’d have less to do…the price you have to pay for fame. 🙂


  8. McGuffy Ann at 16:32 #

    Get off that crazy train…it never goes anywhere good.


  9. Rorybore at 16:53 #

    whoa. I’m exhausted just reading how busy you’ve been! let’s see one small thing: oh yes, get a coffee. honestly though, that’s often the answer anyway.


  10. I had only 37 emails today. See, there is an upside to being an introvert. Dianne


  11. adinparadise at 21:24 #

    Goodness me, Tilly. I am so impressed. As for the e-mails. I had over 1,000 the other day, so I took Viveka’s advice. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I then went to my reader, comments and likes, to see what I could manage to get through. 🙂


  12. Gabrielle Bryden at 03:24 #

    You’re making my head spin 😉 please do not reply to my comment (you obviously have a lot to do 🙂 ) hahaha. Your friend must be very proud of her son!


  13. at 03:39 #

    I feel the same way, please describe why the infants feet? Did I miss something BIG not tiny?


    • I typed ‘the smallest thing’ into Zemanta and that picture came up. Once seen, it had to be used 🙂


      • at 14:58 #

        I agree , wow. a preemie I guess. I have never heard of Zemanta?


  14. jmgoyder at 06:23 #



  15. benzeknees at 06:33 #

    I have some advice for reducing your large email inbox – go through the list & see if any of them are adverts you can erase right away, weed out any you can reply to quickly & deal with them first. After these 2 steps your email total should be down to a more manageable level & not feeling so overwhelmed.


  16. Maddie Cochere at 07:28 #

    You are superwoman this week! I fixed my overblown email inbox by going back through my WordPress list of blogs I follow, and I stopped receiving email notifications for all but the very few that I simply cannot miss. Now I only spend as much time as I can afford to each day reading blog posts as they show up in my Reader. I’m probably missing some good stuff, but I finally put the guilt behind me. I’ll eventually get around everywhere to say hello. I hope all of your tasks become small, Tilly.


    • Thanks, Maddie.

      I did the same thing a couple of months ago and it really helped. I even cut down my daily cartoon intake by a third. 🙂

      Guess I have some more pruning to do 😦


  17. Grannymar at 09:47 #

    Please send care package of some of your energy!


  18. I was exhausted after reading your first paragraph! I hope you rewarded yourself with a few Maltesers after all that work. 🙂
    Thanks for the tip about doing the ‘smallest thing’. I’m going to try and bear it in mind next time I feel overwhelmed by some huge task I have to achieve. It is very sensible advice.


  19. colonialist at 21:34 #

    The smallest thing I could do was not leave a comment, but that is a bit TOO small!


  20. Janet Williams at 21:48 #

    I had never associated you with these powerful verbs: stripped down, scrubbed, painted, reassembled, cleaned, tidied, cut, weeded……you totally amaze me! I feel so ashamed…….


  21. idiosyncratic eye at 09:58 #

    As you can tell, I am in the same boat. What I want to know is why, having finally managed to read and deal with a single email, do five new messages come in? 🙂


    • It’s like that seen in the last Harry Potter book, in Bellatrix’s vault: touch something, and it multiplies exponentially 🙂



  1. FINDING TIME FOR YOU | Emotional Fitness -

    […] Good Advice For The Overwhelmed | The Laughing Housewife. […]


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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