Do you often feel overwhelmed by all the thoughts, ideas, and worries swirling around in your head?
You’re not alone.
There is so much going on in the world that most of us feel easily overwhelmed and stressed out by the sheer number of things we need to focus on, keep track of, or be concerned about.
The technology that is there to improve and simplify our lives is the very source of information overload that affects our mental well-being. With the constant streams of information and the expectation to be ‘available’ at all times, it’s no wonder that many of us feel overwhelmed.
A catch-22 situation with no resolution.
Are you doomed to feel overwhelmed indefinitely or is there a solution?
The truth is, there’s always a solution and there are ways to organize your thoughts, beat overwhelm, and get things done.
Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links. Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.
What to Remember When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Thoughts
It can be tough to see through the fog when you feel overwhelmed by your own thoughts but it’s important to remember the following:
- Your emotions and feelings are natural and normal.
- Your feelings represent your thoughts, not your life.
- Things can turn around quite quickly as soon as you change your thoughts.
- When you change your thoughts, you change the outcome.
- You’ve probably felt this way before and have overcome it in the past.
- Your feelings are valid but things may not be as bad as you think at this moment.
If you don’t put things into perspective then you’ll struggle to get things done. This is why you need to understand the difference between organizing your thoughts and organizing physical items. Once you do, you can learn ways that will help you better organize your thoughts and manage your emotions.
Organizing Your Thoughts vs Organizing Physical Items
Organizing your thoughts is different from organizing your physical possessions. But just like with physical items, it’s an ongoing process. So, it’s important to learn the process.
Unfortunately, you can’t grasp your thoughts as you would your collectibles or gather up your thoughts as you would with a boxful of paper. Your thoughts are intangible, elusive, but oh so noticeable when they won’t stop running through your head. They also run your actions.
In order to organize your thoughts when you feel overwhelmed, you need to convert them into physical form. This creates space and allows your mind to process your unruly thoughts.
But how on earth would you go about converting your intangible thoughts into something physical?
There are actually a number of ways for you to do this.
Here are 10 ways for you to organize your thoughts so that you can get out of your head and get things done even when you feel overwhelmed (brilliant ideas sourced from The Order Expert):
Use Sticky Notes/Post-its
One of the most practical ways to organize your thoughts if you feel overwhelmed is to get them out of your head and into the physical world where you can visualize them. A great method for this is to stick post-its on the wall. Grab a pen and write only one thought per post-it and then stick it up. Keep doing this until you’ve emptied all the pressing thoughts from your mind. Since each sticky note represents only one thought, you can rearrange and organize your thoughts right in front of your eyes. Step back from the wall and take some time to observe your thoughts. You might just be surprised at the insights you get when doing this exercise.
Draw a Mind Map
A mind map is a useful tool for connecting different thoughts together. Mind maps tend to have one main thought in the middle with lots of related thoughts or ideas surrounding the main one. Grab a pen and a fresh sheet of paper and then write down your predominant thought in the center. Then draw a circle around it. Next, draw a line outwards from the circle. At the end of that line write down a thought related to your main one. Keep on adding thoughts as needed until you feel like your mind map is complete.
This is a terrific exercise if you have an exciting new business idea that you are struggling to conceptualize because new thoughts keep popping up and you feel overwhelmed.
Make Notes on Index Cards
Index cards have always been a useful way to organize or keep track of your thoughts and ideas. There are two ways to use them. Grab a pen and a stack of index cards. They can be blank index cards or lined index cards (whichever you prefer). The first option is to write only one thought per card as you would with the post-its exercise. This will work well if you feel overwhelmed by to-do’s and are struggling to prioritize or if you are anxious and just need to get your thoughts out of your head.
The second option is to write your main thought at the top of the index card and then a bullet point list of subsequent or related thoughts underneath it. You can take this one step further and jot your main thought on a colored index card and develop categories by writing subsequent or related thoughts on plain cards and group them together. You can expand on the related thoughts as you think of them. This is ideal if you’re trying to organize your thoughts about a project or assignment. Once done, you can reorganize the cards in a way that helps your mind better manage these thoughts or ideas.
Write a List
This is likely the classic technique we all turn to when we have too many thoughts. There’s a reason writing a list is popular: it’s an easy and uncomplicated way to organize your thoughts. Whether you’re writing out your to-do list, a shopping list, or anything else you need to remember. So, make sure to turn to this method when you feel overwhelmed too. Grab a pen and your notebook and just start writing. One thought per line until you’re all out of thoughts. Step away from your list for a while and then come back to look for connections or similarities. You can even refine your list by creating a new one as you sort through your thoughts.
The reason that I suggest using a notebook instead of just a piece of paper is that it becomes a log of information. Like a diary that you can look back on and review over time. You’re less inclined to tear out pages so it’s easier to reflect. Make sure to date each entry.
Design a Pie Chart
If you’re a more visually orientated person, then this method will probably work well for you. These visual charts combine shape and color to represent thoughts, ideas, or concepts. You can draw the pie chart yourself or use a computer program to design one if you prefer. Grab a pencil, a clean sheet of paper as well as some colored pencils, markers, or highlighters. Draw a large circle and then write down important thoughts at various intervals within the circle. Take the time to really consider your thoughts and their relationship with each other. Are certain ones more pressing than others? Give these thoughts the larger percentage of your pie chart.
A pie chart is different from a mind map in the sense that you are fitting all your thoughts into a single circle instead of lesser thoughts around a predominant thought. You also assign a percentage value to each thought depending on how important it is to you. Color in each ‘slice’ of the pie with a different color and then review to determine your personal priorities.
Draft a Letter
Writing a letter is an art. It takes skill and effort. The very act of writing a letter requires you to organize your thoughts in a coherent manner. Find some time to switch off all your devices and put pen to paper. Imagine that you are writing a letter to a friend. But keep in mind this is simply a draft – you won’t actually be sending this letter to anyone. It’s just for you. Contemplate all the thoughts swirling around in your mind. How would you organize them in a way that you could describe or explain them to a friend? Which thoughts are connected or relevant and which aren’t?
Once you clarify your thoughts, just start writing. It doesn’t have to be very good or make sense – it could simply be a stream of consciousness. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel once you get it all out.
Create a Collage
This is another wonderful option if you’re a more visual person. If you have the time, you can create a collage with a collection of pictures that represent your thoughts. Although this can be more time-consuming, it can also be quite a fun process. You can collect images from newspapers, magazines, flyers, cards, or any other printed materials. Use scissors to cut out the relevant pictures and then stick them to a sturdy poster board with a glue stick. Don’t limit yourself only to pictures, you can also add words, colors, or shapes. Whatever helps you to adequately express the feelings and thoughts that are overwhelming you.
Develop a Timeline
Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts because they all seem pressing and urgent. It can be difficult to prioritize certain thoughts over others when you can’t put them into the perspective.
To give yourself more context, it may be useful to schedule your thoughts on a calendar. By creating a timeline, you can clearly see which thoughts are urgent and which thoughts can wait until later for your attention. You can use a calendar for this exercise and then write a single thought per day/week/month slot as is needed. Essentially, you are organizing your thoughts by importance in order to give yourself enough space to concentrate on one at a time.
Record an Audio of Yourself
If you’re more of an auditory person, then this technique will work wonders for you. When you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, grab a voice recorder or just your phone and record an audio of yourself sharing all the thoughts running through your mind.
You can take some time to prepare and record your thoughts in an organized manner or you can simply talk and let it all out. Not only will you be able to listen back to your thoughts and process them, but your tone of voice will also give you insight into your mental space at the time of the recording. This method can be extremely cathartic; especially if you feel like you need to vent.
Disconnect from Your Thoughts
This final tip is not a specific technique or method. Rather it is guidance on how to better manage intruding thoughts and overwhelming feelings. Yes, getting your thoughts out is extremely useful. But sometimes it won’t help. At these times, you may need to learn how to disconnect or disengage from these thoughts. There are numerous ways for you to do this:
- Engage in simple yet monotonous tasks such as washing the dishes to help you enter a calm or meditative state.
- You could also sit quietly in a peaceful space such as under a tree to ground yourself and meditate.
- Move your body through exercise to get out of your head and drop into your physical body.
- Spend time outside by taking a walk to bring your attention outwards into the physical realm.
- Talk it out with a good friend or family member (especially if one of the methods above didn’t work).
- Listen to music or sing your heart out. When you’re in the car roll down the windows and sing like a rock star.
I know how difficult it can be to deal with intrusive thoughts which is why it’s essential to learn methods for organizing your thoughts. If you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, then one of these techniques is sure to help you.
Choose one that appeals to you or that you think may help and put some effort into it. You’ll be surprised at the results. Simply converting your thoughts into something tangible that you can organize, is extremely therapeutic.
How do you organize your thoughts when you feel overwhelmed by them?
PIN IT FOR LATER: