How to Stop Being Overwhelmed

Print Friendly

Whenever you’re trying to improve yourself and learn new skills, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Here are some ideas about how to stop being overwhelmed!

How to Stop Being Overwhelmed

How to Stop Being Overwhelmed

Definition of Skill:

  1. the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc. to do something well.
  2. competent excellence in performance; expertness; dexterity
  3. understanding, discernment.
  4. the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.
  5. to make a difference

Many of you who have been following our blog may get overwhelmed. It happens to almost everyone when they are trying to improve themselves in any area. At times, when reading a self improvement book, taking a course, or hearing a speaker, I become excited and inspired and then run the whole gamut:

  • On the first and second day, I jump up and put it into practice.
  • The third and fourth day, I run into an obstacle and decide it is way too hard.
  • The fifth day, I give up.

Has anyone else been there and done that? Now that I am beginning to get ancient (to quote my children– I’ve got news for them!) I have finally figured something out. Everything is difficult and awkward when you first try it. Everything has obstacles that need to be overcome in order to succeed (That’s the secret to success: overcoming obstacles) and if you don’t give up you will obtain more knowledge, skill and strength.

I wrote the definition of skills down so you could make note of a few keywords like practice. That means, “to train at something by repeated exercises or to form a correct habit by repetition.” You need to do something over and over to get good at it.

I always say if you want to learn to bake a pie, make one every day for 14 days and at the end of that time you will know how to bake a pie. Why? Because you will have made every mistake there is in making one and hopefully will have learned not to do the same thing wrong the next time. You need to do this with anything.

If you keep practicing, you will become competent. Notice the order. You can’t become competent until you have practiced. You then gain an understanding of what you are doing and discernment so that you can effectively and readily (quickly) perform the job at hand.

Everyone always wants me to give them a magic formula to clean their kitchens or bathrooms quickly. I can give steps 1, 2 and 3, which will help, but you will only start performing them readily and effectively after you have practiced them for a while and become competent.

It’s just like any job: The first week I start, I want to quit. Nothing makes sense. I am always all thumbs, one step behind everyone else. But because I have incentive (I need the money), I keep at it. By week two I’m feeling more comfortable. At the end of the month I think I have figured it out. In two months, I consider myself an expert, very knowledgeable in what I have to do and I do it quickly and efficiently.

I like definition #5: to make a difference. Will you have made a difference by persevering- a difference for you and your family and their lives? A difference by getting your home clean and clutter free, your money under control and your family debt free?

The secret is doing what is right, even when it is hard. You can’t gain skills in anything by taking the easy way out.




  1. says

    here is a sort of formula for doing lots of different things but I will use cleaning and organizing your kitchen.
    List things you need done immediately.
    do dishes left sitting over night or longer.
    clean counters even under the appliances (crumbs under the toaster)
    wash the large appliances to get rid of grease and finger prints.
    Sweep the floor hopefully wash it.

    Start with the dishes. get them washed dried and put away. One part done.
    Even you get nothing else done in the kitchen you are ahead of the game. You have clean dishes to cook the next meal. Well done. Pat yourself on the back.

    Start moving the appliances and wipe under them as you move them and before you put them back or away in the cupboard. By the time you are done the counters are cleaned and that is another job done. Give yourself another pat.

    Since you have done the dishes your stove is now cleared off so give it a good cleaning of the cooking surface at least. While you still have the cleaning stuff out spray the fridge and wipe it down. Another thing done. another pat.

    As you can see if you break things down to small doable steps it is much more rewarding when you get each step done.
    Even if you don’t get it all done that day due to whatever other things come up, health, emergencies or just frustration you will get it done at some point.
    Give yourself a bit of a reward for each step. I say a pat on the back but it could be almost anything. step outside and take a few minutes to breathe fresh air or look at your garden.

    you did not enter grade one being able to add subtract and read books you had to learn and practice these things so don’t expect that you will be able to do something you want to do just through your desire. It takes time and practice and yes frustration.
    You are patient with your children when you teach them so give yourself the same patience you do deserve it.

  2. Bea says

    We don’t live in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve lived there, life was lovely and easier. We live in a fallen world. It is a school, where we learn to grow in holiness. By patience and practice and perseverance, we learn to overcome. Since this isn’t paradise, just about everything takes work. Like a commercial on TV says, Life is messy, clean it up.” We just have to keep trying, overcome our weaknesses, and hopefully get better as the years pass. It isn’t easy, and it’s not meant to be. We don’t grow unless we keep trying and don’t give up. And hopefully, when we see Jesus face to face, He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Learning and growing is life-long.

  3. Debbie says

    I give up on ‘new’ skills a lot but find that if I digest a bit after having tried and given up on something and then try again it becomes easier. I may do this start and stop thing a couple of times until I’m not so uncomfortable with the new skill.

    If I need to learn to do something now this theory doesn’t apply but if the skill is just something I would like to know how to do but don’t have to learn it this is what I do.

    Thanks for the post. You always cut right to the chase and spell it out all easy like. Putting words to things always clears it up. I ‘know’ the things you are talking about and usually it’s just something I do but have never given it the cliff notes version. You have such a nice way of doing that for me. Thanks.

    • says

      Thank you Debbie. I sometimes worry that I come across as being too strong on some things and I don’t mean to do that so I struggle with my wording so thank you for saying that.

  4. Sheri says

    You might use strong wording sometimes, but we need that! Honesty is one of best things I like about your articles. You are so practical!

    Thank you!

  5. says

    I always say if you want to learn to bake a pie, make one every day for 14 days and at the end of that time you will know how to bake a pie. Why? Because you will have made every mistake there is in making one and hopefully will have learned not to do the same thing wrong the next time. You need to do this with anything.

    Jill that is one thing in my life that even with 47 years of trying I have never mastered.
    Started when I was 8. brother said oh Lynda made pie crust are we having pizza?
    Has never gotten much better. Pie crust for pasties great it doesn’t crumble but for blueberry pie lets just not go there.

    Almost anything else I have wanted to learn I do decently just takes practice but pie crust is beyond me.
    Even when you know how to do something you are always learning quicker and better ways to get it done.
    So don’t give up just do it.

  6. rose says

    love the article and everyone’s posts .. i would love to learn how to sew .. and my time is not that free yet .. but i was telling the seamstress where i help at the dry cleaners that eventually i will not but doing this and i asked her if i could have her teach me a few things .. she finally said yes .. she said i have such good work ethics and that i am willing to learn (she really is an awesome seamstress.. i have seen her take things from pics and make outfits.. change the look on clothes to make the person feel confident and awesome.. she really is a talented with the needle) ..
    so i am very excited about that too …
    and you are all right.. when u r learning something and dont quite master it .. try it again ..
    jill i was telling my son in law that i am ready to try to make homemade soap detergent and he said “didnt you try that b4? and will u be telling the garbage men about this?” .. hehehehe 😀 remember the last fiasco i had …
    well i informed him you and tawra made a video of what to do and i figured out what i did wrong … and he said to make sure becky (my daughter) was with me just in case .. hehehe 😀 .. we had a good laugh and i told him that i wont be needing becky and that i would be fine .. i did promise to watch ur video a few times BEFORE i attempt this again ..
    he said “ok” but not very convincingly .. our little friend julie (she helps us at the cleaners and around my house and etc.. she is like family .. a really good friend) said she would help me .. and i told her ok .. and that i would give her some free soap detergent ..
    so jill .. again u have inspired me (and i am sure others) to keep tackling things until u r sure you got the skill down to a science (one that fits you!) …
    ps i did this when i wanted to learn to make the zuppa tuscana soup at olive garden .. we used to go there all of the time to eat this .. and i kept asking them how do they make it .. finally the cook there told me (he didnt give me exact measurement but told me of the ingredients) .. i went to the store and made that soup 3 times!! .. each time got better but i changed it a bit .. now i prefer mine over theres ..
    oh i still love olive garden but then i found out each cook makes it the way they want .. sometimes adding too much cream or water or not enuff .. or not enuff potatoes ..
    mine> i make mine with the golden potatoes (they use russet) .. no meat or extremely little and if so then sweet sausage (they use the hot sausage .. this is italian sausage .. and they use bits of bacon) … i use extra kale (lots.. we love kale in our soups) .. chicken broth … and heavy cream (i use very very little .. just enuff to give a bit of lite coloring .. not sure how much they use but one time it was made with too much and u can definitely taste it ) ..
    i did find a cookbook at the local supermarket that had this recipe and from the recipe it said to use alot of the cream .. the first time i did this i didnt like the taste so by the third time i had only used a few drops (maybe l/2 to a full tablespoon, i normally eyeball it (like a pinch of this or a dollop of that, like my grandma used to do) ..
    and there u go .. zuppa tuscana soup like olive garden …

  7. Simplesista says

    I’ve very much been inspired by this blog and have spent the last 4weeks of the summer holidays decluttering. I’m a teacher and current on our summer break! They were only little declutter projects but boy, what a difference getting them done has made to sense of well being! The new skill I’m learning is to practise the tips I’ve picked up here-put clothes away as soon as I bring them in, clean shower as I’m rinsing off myself,make bed as I get out of it etc! Do far I’m doing well, I’m hoping Jill, if I do it for 14 days straight it’ll become ingrained into my soul! Lol! The challenge will start next week when I go back to work! However, ill have completed 14 days on a row by then so I’m hoping it will be fine! Thanks for the tips and inspiration, best wishes from the quite lovely and warm shores of England today! Xxxx

    • says

      Like I have said before I do love hearing from our readers in England. More then half of the books I read are set in England. Sounds like you are really on a roll and are still going strong. : ) I think you will have it down by the time you go back to work. Be prepared for a little adjustment because you may have to do things slightly different which might cause you to be tempted to give up temporarily. Not for long though because I think by that time you will have enjoy the difference so much in your home that you won’t want to go back. One thing to remember and it might help. It only takes 2-3 mins. to make a bed. I tell you that so you won’t be tempted to use lack of time as an excuse not to do it.
      Another thing I was talking to a gal this week end who rarely made her bed. I asked what did she feel like on the days when she did make it and she said “It feels so gook.” and so I told her wouldn’t she like to feel good like that everyday.
      If you can be sure to post how it is going those first days back. I will be wondering – that is if you have time. : ) Keep up the good work.

  8. Simplesista says

    Hi everyone! Update on my last comments- I’ve now been back at work full time over a week and I’m doing really well with keeping the house as tidy as it was after my big declutter summer project! I put things back where I get them from immediately, clothes are tidied away as soon as they dry-I don’t have a dryer do it’s all line dried or rack dried indoors-my freezers are sorted and food eaten! I clean the bath, shower and bathroom sink as I use it still, so the bathroom is always clean! Yay!!!! Thanks for the inspiration and humour everybody, I do check in daily.
    Best wishes from a rapidly getting darker and colder England,brrr!! Xxxxx

    • says

      Way to go Simplesista. Yeahhhhhh!!!! A bunch of hurrays from us in the still hot and too sunny US (Kansas anyway is still horrible hot. : ) I was holding my breathe because I knew you were wondering whether you could keep things up when you went back to work but you did it. I think you have got into to the habit now and it should be easier for you from now on at least the motivational part will be fine. Don’t panic now if you have a day or two once in awhile where you can’t keep up just start over again and you will do fine.
      I always say those habits we get into when things are going a little more smoothly in our lives are the ones that tide (tied ?) us over when we have a crisis hit like getting sick, a new baby, moving etc. At those times it is harder to keep up with things and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we can’t. Life happens and there are times we can’t always deal with everything that is tossed our way but once we get over the hump then we can get back to those good habits.
      Also sometimes when I am exhausted or having a rough day, the only things I can do are the habits I have and the things I don’t have to think about when I do them.
      Anyway super good job and if you can send some of your cooler air our direction I would appreciate it. : ) I love England. I have been watching English murder mysteries for the past month almost everyday. I know I need to practice what I preach and get busy organizing my garage this week. :) Once again “Way to go!”

  9. Simplesista says

    And Jill, you are sooo right, it does only take minutes to make a bed- I’m doing mine as soon as I get up for work every morning. And it just makes such a difference to my sense of well being when I get into a made bed at the end of the day, after work and cooking for the children. It’s a little bit of thanks for the encouragement!

    • says

      It’s funny you should mention the making of the bed. I talked to a young girl last week and we were talking about making her bed each day and how it would only take you 2-3 mins. to do it. She still wasn’t sure it was worth it when I asked what she felt like the rare times she walked into her room when the bed was made. She got a sheepish grin and said it feels really really good. I grinned back and said just think if you made you bed you could have that feeling everyday.
      I will have to show here your comment to help motivate her some more. :)

  10. Simplesista says

    Hello, it’s me again! It was my birthday last week,and my lovely bf got me “The Tightwad Gazette” as part of my gift! I’m really enjoying it but u girls on living on a dime do the frugal living the bestest!

    • says

      That is so nice of you to say that. We love The Tightwad Gazette too. We even talked with the author when we were writing Dining on a Dime and asked if we could use a couple of her recipes and she said we could. She was like the forerunner to us and really help us a bunch many years ago when we were first starting out.

  11. Simplesista says

    Jill I love that u love English tv programmes and I’m a fan of the American ones! Do u watch Downton Abbey? That’s an English programme that’s very popular at the moment.

    • says

      Yes I have seen it a few times. For awhile it came on at the same time another show I liked did so I only see it off and on. I like some of the really old ones too like As Time Goes By and there are usually 3-4 of some sort of English shows I watch each week. Of course I have watched Dr. Who for years too. I’m afraid I have watched so many of the shows that I can really understand their accent. Between the books I read and shows I even know what things like nappies, bonnet of a car, pudding, jumpers, biscuits all are.
      I really do enjoy the shows and oh the scenery. I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must be in your countryside. Being able to see all that beautiful green after living in Kansas with it’s flat brown plains would be a sight for sore eyes.

  12. Julianne says

    Hi Jill, I love your website. I just recently discovered it and I am inspired so much by your ideas. We are working on spending less money, paying off our debt and de-cluttering. I especially like this article because it reminds me that no matter how difficult it is, just don’t give up.

    • says

      Thank you Julianne. Sounds like you are headed in the right direction with a really good attitude. That is half the battle. It does take a little time and forging on in spite of things but boy once you get it done it is sooo very worth it. I have never had anyone who has seriously decluttered or got out debt say they wish the hadn’t gone that direction. : ) : ) Keep up the good work.

  13. Susan says

    With Youtube and many online classes and tutorials it is much easier to get instructions on how to do many things you don’t know how to do or have not been able to do well. I find help in so many areas (sewing, gardening, building, woodworking etc) so you don’t have to just “blunder” along–you have an opportunity to do it right (or almost right) the first time! The internet is a scholastic treasure!

  14. Mary Jane says

    Hello to my Living on a Dime friends. This isn’t really about being overwhelmed, or maybe it is. I just spent a much anticipated evening with some of my grown children and their friends. There was a barbecue and pleasant conversation, with lots of children present. Here is what is bothering me. My children make good money. Tonight a large freezer box of hamburger patties was opened to provide burgers for the barbecue. My lovely daughter-in-law took the last two, still frozen, hamburger patties and threw them in the kitchen garbage can. I nearly choked. My husband protested, but she explained that one of the burgers was freezer burnt (you could have fooled us), and besides, there was no more room on the barbecue grill. My husband suggested that at least they could cook it and give it to their large, expensive-to-feed, dog. No, that wasn’t an option. In the vehicle on the way home, he told me that she had thrown out about 15 of her mature tomato plants, because she had about 3 large green trash bags full of tomatoes. The problem: the plants were still covered with what had been viable tomatoes at least two inches across each. He figured that there was at least another good sized grocery sack full of tomatoes wasted. My husband had discovered them in a heap in the back yard, and the tomatoes were beyond salvaging, as they had been tossed over a week ago. We have often seen this kind of waste in 3 out of 4 of our children’s homes. No amount of gentle coaxing seems to change anything. I know it is none of my business, but it is hard to watch people throw away the better part of say, a Christmas turkey, when they have a perfectly good freezer. They all work so hard for their money, but habits like this means more of that money is wasted, and longer work hours to maintain their lifestyle. They respect our frugality to some extent, but generally treat us like we are “poor” or a bit hill-billy. Earlier this summer, we returned home a bit earlier than expected and invited our grown children to a nice restaurant for a dinner (with their entire families). We would never do that if we thought for one moment that it wasn’t in our budget. They came, but tried to pay for their dinner, saying things like “Mom, Dad, you don’t know how expensive this will be.” Of course we knew how much it would cost, and we had budgeted for it. We did pick up the tab and it was as expected and paid for in cash. Sorry about the rant, but on the way home I thought, “I just need to touch bases with my Living on a Dime friends, and hang out people with a little bit more sanity.” Thanks for listening. I don’t need any advice,; just wanted to know if any one else would have choked to see perfectly good tomatoes and ground beef being thrown out (or any other example of that kind of thinking) My kids weren’t raised like this, and I know they kind of pity us because we won’t spend like they do, on what they do. Sometimes I come away from their homes, feeling sorry for them.

    • says

      Mary Jane I know exactly what you are talking about. That is why I sometimes “rant” on the web site because I run into this all the time and like you it drives my frugal soul crazy. Like you too it makes me more sad and sorry for them than anything. I don’t know how many friends and family members I know who throw out their turkeys just because they don’t want to mess with picking the rest of the meat off of the bones. When I say in one of our posts that most people could save 50% on their food bill by stopping wasting their food, I am serious.

      I think part of it is that they have never “really” had to struggle to have enough money to buy food. Oh I know the economy is bad etc. but most have not had to worry about where their next meal was coming from. Even the homeless have it better now with so many shelters and food banks and places as a back up to help them. (Please don’t e mail about the plight of the homeless in the US). I remember my mom telling me how when she went to her grandparents and often there would be ants in the syrup when she would pour it on her pancakes. Her grandpa made her pick out the ants and eat it anyway. Why because food was very expensive back then and a huge chunk of a person’s pay check when to pay for just the basics. I have found when people live in a world of abundance and even the poorest in our countries do, that they waste really bad.
      I watch people all the time fill their plates with food and throw half of it away. Here yesterday I had two bites of egg and a 1/4 piece of toast I could not finish and had to toss it. I was just sick while I was doing it because I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat all the food on my plate. I always take a very small amount and then if I want more will take a little bit more. As you can tell that is one of my pet peeves.
      Anyway you came to the right place. I see the same thing and cringe like you. I had better stop while I am ahead because I could go on all day on this very subject. :)

  15. Mary Jane says

    Thanks, Jill. I just had to get that off of my chest. Sometimes we are such oddballs in our group of friends and family, that we sometimes think that maybe there is something wrong with our perception of a situation. I need to come to this site on a fairly regular basis to check out if we are balanced in the area of frugality, or not. As the Bible says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man…” and “There is nothing new under the sun…” So I guess we are not alone in what we observe and feel. We will continue to set the best example we can, try be good stewards of our resources, and continue to pray for our friends and families in this area and others. Thank you for your listening ear.

    • says

      You are welcome Mary Jane. I have always thought that we were of the same mind set in many ways so I really do understand. You hit it right on target. The main thing to do is pray for others and try to set a good example. Some day when the really need it they will maybe remember what they learned and saw in you and it will help them.

  16. GMiller says

    Been a fan of yours for past couple of years and even bought your books. I wear sweatpants to work. I’m constantly getting in/out of 4×4 super duty trucks. The seat of my pants wear out while the rest of the pants stay good. I go through the rag box and find a rag I need for patching. I patch the areas as needed. I wear long tailed shirts. Covers the patches. Time marches on. The pants wear thin. I either cut up for rags or save them for jobs like painting, or as sleep clothes. I get my $12 a pair worth. Cluttered I am. Working 12.5 hrs rotating shifts in a mine, plus caring for two 82 y/o people (one had carbon monoxide poisoning and is totally impaired/the other is getting early Alzheimer’s with physical issues) who live with me, so I do not have time. I’ve had to hire a lady to care for one part time. I’ll be 59 soon with severe med issues of my own. So I cut where I can. Being frugal is a skill set all people need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 2 = nine

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>