Heart Breathings

Getting Things Done When You Feel Overwhelmed

March 3, 2022 by Sarra Cannon

Planning And Organization

A common question I get asked is, “How can I still get things done even when I’m overwhelmed or way behind?” When your plan is off the rails or life has shifted quickly, how can we regain control and continue to be productive?

I moved into my dream house! I’m so excited and joyful to be here after five years of renting and six months of travel, but after a week of not being able to find anything in all these boxes, I started to feel massively overwhelmed.

I also currently have Publish and Thrive going on, and I want to make sure I’m there for all my students. HB90 Bootcamp is just around the corner (sign up here), and I’ve got a book to write. How do I get it all done if I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and way behind?

Here’s what worked for me:

Being Productive When I’m Overwhelmed

Steps To Getting Back On Track

STEP 1: Braindump.

  1. Write down everything that has a specific deadline coming up and ask yourself if you HAVE to do this or if you can delegate, push it back, or skip it. If it has to get done, put it on a page flag (or on your list.) 
  2. Ask yourself, “What easy things can I do that will help me get a quick win and help ease some pressure or anxiety?” Write these down! Seriously, even if it’s as simple as “take a shower’ or ‘wash the dishes’. Ideally this will be something that can be done relatively quickly.
  3. Now that you have those out of the way, write down every single thing that’s been on your mind as needing to get done. This is everything that’s making you feel anxiety. This might not be an easy win or something with a deadline, but it’s something that’s been nagging at you or causing you to feel overwhelmed.

    Questions I ask myself:
    “What’s currently causing me anxiety that I can take action on?”
    “What’s currently feeling out of control?”
    “What other steps can I take to alleviate this feeling of being overwhelmed?”
    “Can any of this stuff be delegated, outsourced, or pushed back to another time?”
    “What can I reliably handle right now?”

Once your list is made, take away anything that was delegated, deleted, or outsourced. Now you have a list of what’s truly on your plate right now.

STEP 2: Prioritize

Arrange your list or page flags in order according to what’s the most important or urgent item that needs to get done. This will give you a very clear list of what needs to be done and in what order.

STEP 3: Get into action

Choose the first item to work on and just jump in and get it done! One tiny step at a time. As you start to clear the list, you’ll start to feel more in control and relieved.

Okay To Not Be Productive, Too

I feel I need to add here that it’s also totally okay to NOT be productive, too. If you’re feeling burned out, depressed, or overwhelmed, maybe you just need a break. Maybe you need a focused period of self-care and rest. That’s okay, too. We don’t always have to be at max productivity.

If you feel you need a rest, maybe you can use this little mini-kanban board to create a list of fun and relaxing activities that will help you get out of burnout or get more rest or exercise.

We all go through ups and downs, but if you’re struggling right now, you’re not alone. If you want to be more productive but you’re struggling through depression and lack any motivation, maybe try putting just 2 or 3 things on your list. Easy things like “make the bed” or “cook a nice dinner” or “play a video game”.

I hope these tips resonated and that you’re doing well.

Don’t forget we have Double Down Day coming up this weekend for anyone who wants to write with our livestreams in the Heart Breathings Writing Community. Find our schedule on the Google calendar on the page I just linked.

HB90 Bootcamp Starts March 13th

Another round of the HB90 Bootcamp is coming up March 13th and registration is now open! If you’re excited for the future and really WANT to get things done and move toward your goals, but you’ve been struggling to create a plan that allows you to get more done in the time you have available, this course is seriously life-changing. Come join us!

Sign up for HB90 here.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll be back soon with the March Notebook Challenge!

Create A Writing Plan That Helps You Hit Your Deadlines!

Subscribe now to download this Writing Plan and Scheduling page. Set deadlines and track your progress as you write your novel!

If you're anything like me, you constantly feel behind and yet, you continue to procrastinate! Looking ahead, setting goal dates, and keeping track of your schedule as you write is one way to stay motivated and on target.

I won't send you spam or share your information. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Sarra Cannon


  1. Sofia says:


    I have followed your youtube for several years. This is my first time to leave message to you. Ihave a qeusiton that where you buy the Kitty transparent board. thx !

    1. Sarra Cannon says:

      Thank you!! You can get the Hello kitty stand at Erin Condren: https://shrsl.com/3hqyk

Leave a Reply

Sarra Cannon

Hi, I'm Sarra!

I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.


A Writer's Life Planning And Organization Self-Publishing Tips Writing Tips