Overwhelmed? Attend to Your Physical Environment

Dec 23, 2020

Overwhelm was creeping into my daily state this past week.

I deviated to familiar distractions like youtube, “tab switching,” gaming, etc.

The day was coming to a “close” and I wasn’t getting the majority of things done that I had set out to do.

Even though I had made progress and took care of a couple of things I had been postponing for days, I felt like I was still avoiding important work.

And I still have, BUT…

When I’m in a raw state of overwhelm, it’s likely I won’t even START the important work.

Step 1 is always NOTICING it. And Step 2 is doing the one thing my heart knows it needs to do:

I made myself step away from the computer, the to-do lists, and the constant need to frantically bounce from task to task (yet get nothing done).

One of the signs of where I’m at,mentally is the quantity and severity of “overwhelm piles” surrounding my physical environment.

If I can see an excess of “pending projects,” piles of papers, un-emptied bags, miscellaneous notes, and surfaces that are HARDLY bare …

It usually means that my mental state is in a pretty similar space:

Overwhelmed, “juggling projects,” unable to focus, and worst:

Not in tune with myself and what’s TRULY important in the moment because “everything feels important.”

i.e., operating on auto-pilot and not being intentional.

So when I consciously made the choice to step away, to forgo the to-do list, and to physically tackle all the “overwhelm piles,”

I could feel my body develop a sense of physical calm.

My mind finally had the space to process thoughts that had been bouncing around for days.

I cleaned the dishes that were sitting in the sink for weeks.

Looked at every surface and asked: is this [thing] supposed to be here, or should the surface be barren, laying in wait for me to USE the space for something intentional?

Asked if this [pile of stuff] needs to be visible, or can I put it out of sight if I’m not willing (or don’t have the time) to DO something with it right now?

Moved any item that needed to be actioned into ONE bucket so that I could address them all in one sitting, instead of having multiple “important projects” scattered all over the place.

Looked around and tried to make things just a little more “beautiful” in some way: maybe moving this thing over there, turning a plant 13 degrees to the left, changing the intensity of the lighting — anything to make the space feel more cozy or conducive for what I need in the moment.

Once the sink was empty, “archived projects” were out of sight, and the “chaos of important projects” organized into a single location —

And most importantly: when I got away from the “tech,” the stimulus of the online world, and spent enough time with my own thoughts (without thinking about “you”) … and literally created empty surfaces:

It was as though my body could calm down and my mind could focus–

“Aha! A space for me to create. At long last. Let’s get started.”


Written with “No Zero Days” in mind. Even though I “should” be in bed, as long as I “write something,” or do the bare minimum of XYZ — the day becomes a win.

As always: once I start, once I start typing, once I take the photo — “flow” develops and I always feel better off.

I’ve turned the page after having been “stuck” on the same page for weeks.

It might not be a shift of “grand” proportions, but sometimes a win is improving 0.5% from yesterday.

BrickByBrick Day 57

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