What to Do When Overwhelm Affects Productivity

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Have you ever reached the point when there’s plenty to do, but you are unproductive?

Sometimes, you could have great goals and motivation. You take on many projects and can’t complete them all. At other times, life serves you added responsibilities that result in an overload of chores, and nothing gets done.

According to Angelika Dimoka, Temple University’s director for neural decision-making, the prefrontal cortex receives extra data when people look at complex problems. When faced with information overload, it shuts off. It’s as though there’s a breaker in the brain to manage overwhelming data surges.

You aren’t lazy if you take on too much and do nothing. You’re experiencing a prefrontal shut down and fuzzy logic.

Here’s what to do if you experience this overwhelm:

Break It Down

The human mind, while enjoying choice, isn’t keen on a plethora of tasks to undertake unless a clear, doable, step-by-step plan is in place. You are liable to feel overwhelmed whether you buy a bundle of new well-being courses to work through or agree to masses of work projects.

Your mind will manage better if you create a plan of action that breaks tasks into small steps. You can accomplish many jobs, even huge ones, but it’s necessary to inch forward. Then your brain won’t cut off your thinking prowess and leave you unable to move forward.


You’ll also benefit from setting some jobs to the side after figuring out which to prioritize. Just knowing you’ve got a mass of projects ahead of you can cause fuzzy thinking triggered by panic.

Deal with one job at a time, and forget about the rest until you can manage them. Otherwise, you might achieve very little.

Optimize Your Schedule

You may imagine jotting chores in a diary or using an app that helps you organize tasks will lessen stress and reduce the odds of being overwhelmed, but most likely, it won’t. Too many events scheduled on your wall calendar will drain your reasoning skills.

It’s impossible to fool your brain by hiding tasks, but you can give jobs a definite start and end date and eek them out within a workable timeframe.

If you need to decorate the house, carry out many household chores, and landscape the garden, for example, you could plan to handle them at specific times of the year. Indoor jobs in the winter and autumn and outdoor ones in the spring and summer, perhaps.

Then break projects down into smaller jobs, going from room to room when you decorate and spending a week on each until you finish.

Practice Mindful Exercises

Stress from task overload will diminish, too, if you carry out a mindful exercise, like breath meditation. When a panicky feeling rises in your stomach, stop for a few moments. Follow deep, slow breaths as you inhale and exhale, and calmness will descend to help you cope.

You Got This

Everyone is overwhelmed at times, but you can take steps to manage the overload on your prefrontal cortex.

Rather than opt for too much variety, lessen choices when you need to make decisions, and you will reason well. Likewise, prioritize tasks, and set unimportant ones aside. Break jobs into doable chunks and focus on each one instead of thinking ahead, and practice mindful relaxation so you don’t ignite your internal breaker.

2 thoughts on “What to Do When Overwhelm Affects Productivity

  1. Yhe prefrontal cortex information was interesting. Thanks for the practical, doable advice.

    1. I’m glad you found it interesting, Susan! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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