Few people outside the title/escrow business understand the hustle it takes to run a successful desk.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you:
You walk into your office Monday morning, Starbucks in hand, optimism in full effect, ready to conquer your workday.
Then you start scrolling (and scrolling) through emails.
And notice the red light blinking on your phone.
And the stack of files on the corner of your desk from Friday.
Overwhelm starts to set in, your shoulders start inching up around your ears, and your chest begins to tighten. It’s enough to make even the most dedicated of us want to run for our TikTok fyp.
You’re not alone!
When we spin out in overwhelm it’s because of our thoughts, and the feelings that those thoughts generate. Our brain is telling us that the tasks ahead are too much:
- We’ll never get them all done (failure).
- We don’t have an answer for that lender or agent (inadequacy).
- We have to admit a mistake – even if we’re not the one that made it (vulnerability).
These unproductive thoughts lead to unproductive actions, which leads to more overwhelm.
But you can break that cycle.
Here are 3 steps you can take to start conquering overwhelm today.
Step 1: Get a Plain Journal or Notebook
Go into your closet and grab one of the seven journals that you started but never finished (or is that just me?).
Give yourself an hour for this exercise, and do it the same day/time each week. I find that Sunday mornings, coffee in hand, dogs next to me on the couch, is the best time for me. I’m in a relaxed state and thinking with the logical part of my brain (prefrontal cortex). You definitely don’t want to do this when you’re under pressure or already stressed.
Now write down all of the to-do items that wake you up at 3 o’clock every morning…the question you’ve been meaning to ask underwriting, the 1,000th email you need to send to the seller’s agent, your daughter’s soccer game that you volunteered to bring snacks for.
All of it.
You’ll want to start freaking out at the number of tasks on your list – but don’t! You don’t have to do any of it yet, or even at all if that’s what you decide. The point is to just get everything out of your brain and onto paper.
Step 2: STS (Schedule That Shit)
Go back into your closet, next to the stack of unused journals, and get out one of your unused monthly calendars.
It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, simple is actually best.
Open up your calendar for the upcoming week and schedule each task on your list.
Each task gets a time frame:
Email client – 7:30am – 7:45am
Walk at lunch – 12:30pm – 1:00pm
Stop after work to get soccer snacks 5:30pm – 6:00pm
Again, don’t panic! It’s your calendar, you’re in control. You get to decide what goes where, or even if it goes at all.
Schedule with kindness! Don’t sabotage yourself by planning an entire day, or days, of back-to-back tasks. You don’t need to be super-human to get it all done, just realistic.
For example, if you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule a gym session for 5 am. If you know your brain is typically dead by 6 pm schedule your high-functioning mental tasks before 3 pm, or, better yet, before work.
Pro tip: Schedule self-time FIRST. It can be as simple as taking yourself to lunch or dinner, even binge-watching Yellowstone (yes, you can still binge tv shows! Just schedule it). We know how quickly self-time goes by the wayside if we don’t make it intentional.
Also, think about delegating tasks when possible: order groceries online, use auto-pay for your bills, or even hire a house cleaner to come in once a month, if that’s feasible for your budget.
Step 3 – DO. THE. DAMN. THING.
Spoiler Alert: You will want to avoid this step.
Your brain will try to tell you it’s too hard or uncomfortable.
It will tell you to pick up your phone, head for the fridge, or go get more coffee.
Expect those thoughts. Be ready for them.
When they arrive just tell your brain to settle down, and then put on your big girl pants and get it done.
Five minutes of feeling uncomfortable beats two weeks of having that same task hanging over your head while you beat yourself up for not having done it.
Budget the time you think each item will take, then use ONLY that time, and move on. If you’ve underestimated how much time you needed then re-schedule another time to finish it.
Obviously, there will be circumstances outside of your control, but it’s your schedule, and you get to decide how to respond.
This isn’t about writing yet another to-do list, and it’s not about wearing our busyness as a badge of honor or feeling sorry for ourselves.
It’s about making decisions on purpose, then executing those decisions. We know what to do, we know how to do it, and we’re worth the effort.
Now, get to scheduling! I’d love it if you’d drop your comments below and let me know how this works for you, or if you have any questions!