Feeling Overwhelmed? Refocus With These Tips

Pin It

Getting back to the Goal

Source: CC from Flickr by Clemens v. Vogelsang

Do you ever get overwhelmed, feeling like you can’t find your focus let alone remember your goals?Every year I give some thought to goals, to what I want to accomplish in the coming year. Yet too often (I am not confessing how often) I catch myself jumping from one thing without finishing because there are so many different things to do. It’s difficult to settle and eventually I feel like nothing gets done. Does that happen to you too?

When I decided to write online, it was intimidating. Reading about the different sites, about SEO, about traffic, is a lot to take in when you are first getting into it. It is all important, but how does one start? It seemed like writing would be fairly easy, but many suggested you have a web site first. Okay, so off to start a website. To create a website, lessons would be required, so off to WordPress and YouTube to find training. Many days were spent checking things out (that usually led to other things) without actually doing anything.

Finally, I just started writing. Squidoo turned out to be an ideal place for that. Not only do you have the flexibility of writing about a variety of subjects, you also have a very supportive, friendly community that is happy to give back. It is amazing for personal growth and confidence.

But that doesn’t mean that overwhelming feeling has disappeared. This past week I’ve been going through it again. There are so many good things that need effort; Writing, a website, more websites, establish a social media presence, various courses purchased, a blog. It sometimes makes me feel like I am not doing any of it well.

Because of that I spent this past weekend finding my way out of it. I guess it’s a good thing that it’s happened so often now that I’m learning how to regroup faster. Since it’s helped me so much, I decided to share some of my methods with you.

Tip #1: Use Evernote

A free app that helps keep it together

There are two free apps that I won’t be without. The first is Evernote. If you don’t have it, take a look at it. I probably spend half my computer time there. It is a free app that syncs between my macbook pro, my iPad, and my iPhone. As far as I know it would sync with a PC as well.

Evernote is like a handy file cabinet or drawer. You set up as many ‘notebooks’ as you want, then write to a particular one. Some of mine are JAQUO, my AlzheimersHQ website, receipts, recipes (great when you are at the store and need ingredients), and book ideas.

There is a little Evernote pin for your computer too, so that most things you find online, a simple click and it will save to Evernote. The app has lots of bells and whistles that you can see when you explore.

I especially love the check boxes you can add, making lists a snap, but the whole app is so easy to work with. The synching is wonderful too. I’ve written pages and pages on my phone, while sitting with my mom as she naps. When I get home, the notes I’ve added appear on my computer. It frees you to write anywhere. It helps my sanity to have all I need in one place.

Tip #2: Try Mind Mapping

A free app that takes you from idea to idea

The second app is a fairly new to me. It’s ‘xMind,’ a free mind mapping app for your computer. It is probably the most helpful app I’ve ever used for planning, inspiring and mind clearing. There are plenty of other mind map apps out there, some you can use on an iPad too, but for mapping I prefer the larger screen on my laptop.

Have you ever used a mind map? If not, I hope you will give it a try. It’s fun and eye opening and naturally leads you to new ideas as you map. It makes it easy to see what steps are needed as you detail it out.

You can see in the picture above, you start with your main goal or point. It can be personal, money making, a book you want to write, anything you want to think out. Once you start with the central theme, add a topic for each thing you need to get it started. If it’s a goal, you can see how easy it would be. Do a separate one for personal and a separate one for business if you need to. I’ve started with one and now have four or five, mostly because I had so much to put in it the writing got too small!

It was interesting though, as I started doing one, it clarified what I needed page by page. It enabled me to carry it out too, that is with subtopics. For instance on one for writing articles, I divided subtopics into reviews, recipes, and articles, then added ideas for each. New ideas came from the ones I wrote. It kept growing! It’s so freeing to know you can write about anything that is of interest to you. Mind Map helps.

Now when I am feeling overwhelmed or lost, I refer to the main one, target in on the goal, and it helps me back on track.

By the way, you can of course, do this with a pencil and a piece of paper. I prefer the computer so I can rearrange or delete and add easily (it makes room where you need it), but either way it will help you focus and get ideas.

Want to read more about it? – Check these out!

If you want to read how to use Evernote or how to mind map, there is a great selection of books available you may enjoy. I liked these, but if you prefer to explore, click on any of them and see for yourself. These would be good choices for Tip #7 too.

Evernote Essentials

Dummies Books Cover Mind Mapping

Good to see Dummies has a mind mapping book. If you need help getting into it,  this one is sure to be fun and instructional.

Mind Mapping For Dummies

Tip #3: Unplug and Get Out

Take a walk without electronics

The third tip that helps me every time is to unplug, disconnect, and get outside for a walk. It’s harder and harder to disconnect. Have you noticed that? In down time, there are games to play, books to read (or listen to). Bring your phone along, but keep it in a pocket. Just take some deep breaths, enjoy being in the fresh air, and think.

Sometimes I will just let my mind wander, but I like to look around for ideas while I walk or take one specific idea with me to kick around. Once in awhile I won’t go back until I’ve ‘solved’ whatever it is in my mind, but just as often, the fresh air simply clears out the cobwebs in my brain, energizes me, and enables focus when I get back.

Tip #4: Use Your Smartphone Notes

Eliminate the confusion

If you have a smartphone use the Notes on it. Do you remember the cute commercial with the squirrel scurrying around hiding nuts? When he got back to his tree house, inside were post-its everywhere reminding him where he hid each one. It still makes me laugh for its cuteness, but that was our house for years We had post-its everywhere. My husband would even hide notes in the fridge to surprise me.

Clearly, that gets to be disorganized. If you have to look at two dozen notes to find one its frustrating and time consuming. Now instead of a post-it, the note goes onto my phone. If yours doesn’t come with some note program already installed, you can get free to-do or list apps like Wunderlist. Mine includes a variety of pages, including my Grocery List, Tasks, Weekly To Do List, Errands, Goals, Costco, you name it (literally).

Once you get used to it, you do it automatically instead of writing on a post-it. When you are out and about or home watching TV, you have your notes right there with you. It’s easier to find them and much easier to stay organized. I admit we do still use the occasional post-it note.. There are times when they are necessary, but much less often these days.

Lists help keep me on track… You too?

Learn how to create lists that work

To-Do List Maker: A 6 Step Formula To Creating The Ultimate To-do List That Works With You! (Getting Things Done, Life Organization, Goals, Productivity, Time Management)

Your phone will have a variety of free apps that you can use to create lists, but should you prefer to write it by hand, go for it. There are some well laid out little pads you can buy that will divide up your tasks weekly, daily or even hourly.

If you are a list person you will enjoy a little book on list making. Did you know there might be a proper way to make lists? Obviously it is what works best for the individual. It has roused my curiosity to get the inside scoop.

Tip #5: Schedule Social Media Time

And don’t forget to limit it.
Schedule a set amount of time for social media, then stay within that time. Use a timer if you need to. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you, but it seems once I get on Facebook or Pinterest, etc., hours can pass quickly without my noticing. It is something that overwhelms me quickly.
I’m not talking about when you are posting. You should definitely post as soon as you publish. It’s important to show your work.
But lately I allow myself to check it first thing in the morning, then in the evening. Judge how much time you have, but I am trying to set 30 minutes maximum for each. Have you had mornings like I have where you look up and find the first couple of hours of your day are gone already?

Clearly, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., have become very important sites for connections. But social media can leave me feeling ineffective, wondering how everyone else manages it so well. That’s an energy drain in itself.  At those times especially I find it helps to back away from it except for posting. Take a day or two if you need to. You can work on your list.

See details here
500 Social Media Tips! Knowledge is Power

Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy reading about the hows and whys of things. Social Media is no exception. Reading or referring to a book like will clear up the confusion you may find among the different sites.

It’s easier to use a social media site when you understand how it works and how it is best used. This book is recommended as full of tips for many of them.

Tip #6: Make a Plan for the Week Ahead

Just one week at a time
Perhaps one of the easiest yet most helpful tip I’ve found is to take a half hour Sunday afternoon or evening and decide what you want to accomplish in the coming week. Maybe it’s an article or two or five, reorganizing a room of your home, a training video you want to watch, an experiment you hope to try. Just consider the coming week.

What I’ve found is once I know what is expected, it is much easier to get it done. I might do half the list in one day so I don’t do anything (much) another day. I would suggest you don’t save the hardest or biggest task for the last day though. It’s encouraging to do a couple of fast things, like a review or a blog post, then take on a time consuming one, like the 2 hour training video, or the new program you’ve been meaning to try. Getting a bigger task done early is very uplifting to mind and body. You won’t feel it hanging over your head.

Tip #7: Read, read, read

It’s a good recharge

Read something educational for for inspiration and encouragement toward your goals. Whether it’s a book, or one of the many informational articles on Squidoo or elsewhere online, you can never learn too much. So many of them can inspire you to move forward or help you let go.

These tips are what helped me find my focus this week. I know what needs to be done this week. Working down the list helps me feel like I’m making progress. That in turn makes me feel less overwhelmed. It will happen again. When there is so much to learn in so many directions, it’s bound to. Maybe we need those times as a tool to get us back on a certain path.

Our smaller goals change as we see how the process goes, and we should adapt when needed. Still the primary goals–the reasons we are working–need to be revisited regularly too, to remember our purpose and stay focused in that direction. Hopefully each step you take will move you closer to that goal.

The 4-Hour Workweek

The Classic: The 4 Hour Workweek

One of the most popular books of its kind. If you haven’t read it, it is highly recommended, even called life changing. It’s a wonderful example of a good read that will inspire you to direct your efforts where they will benefit you most.  There are so many choices that can help anytime.  When you find a favorite, keep it on hand to return to for more inspiration.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry

Share This Post On


  1. Great suggestions! I especially like the way you explained mind mapping, something I’ve had a tough time wrapping my, uh, mind around in the past.

    • Thank you Susan! Some days my mind simply won’t wrap. Funny, since that is when I need to focus the most. I hope you try it. It is amazing how the thoughts flow.

  2. Merry, Thanks for the great tips to stay organized and on top of things. I like the idea of Evernote so I’ll have to check it out.

    • Thanks Sam, I hope you give it a try. Right now I am saving published articles to Evernote. It is so handy!

  3. Thanks so much for these tips Merry – I am certainly going to look into using Evernote and Mind Mapping. I have an issue just getting through my emails my time just vanishes doing things I had no idea needed to be done!! It’s just crazy! The idea of sticking to a plan sounds a like a fantasy to me at the moment. But I have to try it because I know that the chaos does hold me back. I will try and follow your example and see if it works for me.

    • Thanks Giovanna, I know you have your hands full right now. Each little step can help, but don’t let the list itself add to the pressure. Eventually things will settle down.

Submit a Comment