Many clients of mine have busy lives. They think they don’t have time for what matters.

But, it is rarely the lack of time, but how time is used.

Especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to zone out - too much tv, talking on the phone, surfing the net. Instead of making decisions about what to do, it’s easier to float off into a mindless distraction.

How many times on extremely busy days do you end up fiddling away on email or Facebook? Or playing a silly computer game. Or going shopping when that could have waited.

That’s because when we start feeling overwhelmed, we try to get rid of the feeling through easy, zone out activities.

Of course, then you fall even further behind because you aren’t making conscious choices.

What a cycle!

So what is the solution? One thing you can do when you start feeling overwhelmed, is look at your to do list for the thing that would make the most impact on the day. And do it right straight away, blocking thoughts of other to do’s. Close other computer windows. Turn off email notification. Hide the to do list until you are done with that to do

Don’t have a to do list? Make one. Get that stuff out of your head. You will feel calmer immediately.

If you can’t even prioritize the first thing, close your eyes and point to a to do on your list. You will either get started on that to do, or when you look at the item a different to do comes in your head that is probably more important. Do that one instead.

I advocate breaks even on busy days. 5-10 minutes every 60-90 minutes depending on how you feel. Then you can play your silly game, walk around the building, read a magazine article. But, stay on track with a timer. Or you will be zoning out again.

If you have a hard time restarting after a break, it might be easier for you to stop in the middle of a project, not when you have completed something. A sticky note can remind you what to do when the break is over.

Much of your overwhelming feelings come from telling yourself you don’t have enough time, you are overworked and under-appreciated, you are overwhelmed, or you don’t know where to start. These are all unproductive words to be saying and do nothing but get you stuck.

Next time you start to feel overwhelmed check out your thought process. Now ask a simple question - "what is the next right thing to do?" Sometimes you will get one great answer, sometimes you get a flood of answers. Just randomly pick one to get moving on.

If you are doing what needs to be done instead of your zoning out activities, at the end of the day you will have time to do what you want to do. Even if you claim you don’t have time at the end of the day, do something you want to do anyway. Your well being is more important than tackling every bit of laundry or having a spotless kitchen floor.

What activities do you tend to zone out with? What would you really like to be able to do?

Author's Bio: 

Beth Dargis helps people create, saner, simpler lives. Get your free declutter calendar at