There may be a better word, a better term, or a better way to describe that interesting feeling that comes from feeling completely scattered and overwhelmed. However you describe it, the unanchored position during chaotic times can undo us. Unfortunately, this untethered state can creep into our lives before we realize it, and the blur of activity seems to help keep us unaware of our own state of mind.
Are you untethered? Answer a few of these questions to see.
1. Are you feeling anxious even if no specific event can be pointed to as the cause?
2. Do you feel that time is slipping from you and you are not accomplishing what you need to?
3. Is your to-do list growing at a rate faster than your accomplished tasks?
4. Are you tired, even when you are not doing anything?
5. Do you have a hard time starting projects even when the deadline is looming?
6. Do you jump from task to task despite not completing the prior activity?
If you answered yes to 3 or more of these, you may be in an untethered state.
What can we do if we find ourselves in an untethered state?
Here are a few recommendations.
1. Don’t make any large decisions (unless absolutely necessary).
2. Slow down, make lists of what you need to do as long as you also include a list of what you should STOP doing.
3. Do at least one of the difficult or hard tasks on the list first each day.
4. Connect with others and be accountable for the hard things on that list.
5. Find a tether or anchor that will help keep you from being scattered. This can be a person, a book, a setting, or a state of mind. For me this includes going to a “third space” or a place that is not my home or office where distractions are limited. My favorite space is a local library or local coffee shop where it seems just separate enough from my other places that I can focus on specific projects that need to be completed.
6. Regulate your screen time (Computer, phone, and TV). Too much seems to act like a distraction from our actual lives.
7. Stop multitasking. Doing multiple things at once just add to the untethered state. Accomplishing the most important task in front of you will prove more productive than simply doing a piece of five tasks. I printed out a little card for my desk with a few simple words “What is the highest and best use of my time…RIGHT NOW!” This small reminder acts like a tether that keeps the focus on what I need to do, especially if I was avoiding a particular task.
8. Get some exercise. You don’t have to run a marathon, but get moving. Go for a walk, run on that treadmill, or just stretch your arms above your head and breath deeply.
When you find yourself in an untethered state, remember to try a few ideas on the list. Start slowly, and over time you may feel more anchored, more in control.
You can do it! I know you can!