How To Be Productive When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

Overwhelm and Productivity

Looming deadlines? Work mounting up? Inbox getting out of control? The horrible feeling that you have too much on your plate and you don’t know where to begin. We’ve all been there! A bit of pressure is good, but too much pressure can have a very detrimental effect on all areas of our lives and most importantly our health! It can lead to stress and worry and that can lead to a lack of sleep! The very thing needed to give us the energy we need to get through the day and to get on top of the workload!

With all this tail spinning going on it is easy to find yourself in a very unproductive state, feeling like you’re treading water but not actually getting anywhere! So, when the pressure builds, it is super important to have strategies in place that can help alleviate those overwhelming feelings!

Here’s some of my favourite tips for staying productive when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Face It

In the words of Mark Twain, “Eat that frog!” By facing it we can curb the procrastination that comes with avoiding our most challenging tasks!


To help eat that frog, a mantra or two will come in handy! My favourite is J.F.D.I – Just Focus and Do It, Just Flipping Do It – these are the polite versions! I tend to use the less polite version on a daily basis! Need some inspiration? Check out these 25 powerful mantras!

Positive Affirmations

Along the theme of mantras get some positive affirmations up around the room, on your computer, on your stationery, on your phone! Then when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll already be prepared with positive pick me up language all around you!

Break it Down

A wall is made of many bricks! Whether you’re building one up or pulling it down, it’s done in chunks before you see the end result! So, when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, you’re probably doing more than you realise! A list is a great way to see all your bricks…Ok, less about bricks and more about tasks! Once you can see what you’ve got on your plate, it’s far easier to motivate yourself to move through the tasks! There is something particularly satisfying about ticking off jobs on the to-do list! More importantly, once you have a list of your tasks, you can work out what your priorities are, based on deadlines, the order of importance, the things you enjoy and the tasks making your heart sink!


By visualising your workload in this way it is far easier to start seeing the areas that could be delegated! It’s likely you’re feeling overwhelmed because you are overworked, up against a deadline, or because the task at hand, is in fact, not your forte! In all these situations an extra pair of hands could help keep productivity moving in the right direction by sharing the workload and by introducing more appropriate skill sets! Ask for help when you need it!

Virtual Assistant

If help is not readily available then this is where a good Virtual Assistant can prove invaluable! Yes, that’s right, a shameless plug for my industry! But I wouldn’t be plugging it if I didn’t 100% believe that this could help! By outsourcing the heart-sinking tasks you could reduce your stress levels significantly and immediately make yourself more productive! Plus, what a lovely feeling it will be when you can tick a whole load of things off on your list, safe in the knowledge that someone else is handling it!

Take a Break

Grab a drink away from the computer screen! Find a quiet space! Take some deep breaths! Be present and keep everything in perspective! What do you do for YOU on a daily and weekly basis?! Planning in time for a little rest and relaxation is not only good for your wellbeing, but it will also give your brain the space it needs to start working through some of the tasks that have been troubling you. So, whether it’s a fitness class, a trip to the spa or some time spent curled up with a book, make sure you prioritise it! Obviously, it will be easier to achieve this some weeks more than others, so here is some inspiration for when you only have a few minutes of downtime.   


Hopefully, with some newfound headspace, you’ll get the chance to start reflecting on some important questions like ‘is there a better way of doing this?’,are there better tools for the job?’, ‘who could I be delegating to?’ and ‘what could I be delegating?’ These are the important questions to think about, as you could be inadvertently doubling your workload.  Can you afford not to think about these things?!


Build-in time to your day to focus on tasks by using your diary or calendar. By allocating a slot in your busy schedule for your projects, you will ensure your precious time doesn’t get entirely consumed with meetings, appointments and any other life commitments, that get in the way of you getting the job done! This can help alleviate the anxiety caused by looming deadlines, as you’ll have already parked the workload until its designated slot and that is when you can give it the attention it needs.


Once you’ve met your goals, completed the project and met that deadline, take a moment to recognise your achievement! You had this all along! Hold on to that thought, so next time those feelings start creeping in, you have the evidence to pep talk yourself out of feeling overwhelmed! You can trust in yourself and trust in your ability to be productive and get the job done!

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