Overwhelmed woman with head on hand siting at desk surrounded by coffee mugs

Marketers: How to get back on track when you feel overwhelmed

Last week, I was overwhelmed. One of our beloved pets passed away. It was the final straw for me after months of pandemic life and stress about how divided our nation is.

I had to take some time to grieve the loss. But as all marketing and communications professionals know, deadlines don’t stop for pandemics, deaths, or anything else.

When I mentioned my feelings to a friend and colleague (in the context of having to write this blog on time), she replied, “It’s getting to all of us. Maybe that’s what your next blog should be about.”

Sure enough, each colleague I mentioned it to admitted he or she is overwhelmed or has been at some point during the pandemic.

When you’re overwhelmed, work projects and deadlines can seem insurmountable. Here are 4 tips for getting over feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Step away from your desk

Now that many of us aren’t commuting, we spend more time working than before the pandemic. Some people I spoke with admitted to working even more than necessary to distract themselves from the pandemic.

When you’re overwhelmed, you may not feel like you have time to step away from your desk. But taking a break can actually help you be more productive.

Overflowing box labeled "to do" next to empty box labeled "done."
Stepping away from your desk when you feel overwhelmed can actually help you be more productive.

It doesn’t have to be a long break. A short one is all you need to give your brain time to refocus. Take a walk. Scroll through a fun photo album. Heck, empty the dishwasher if it makes you feel better. Do whatever you need to do to take a break from thinking about work and deadlines.

  1. Call a friend, colleague, or loved one

We’re busy, and we assume everyone else is too. And they are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you and be there for you. Even in the middle of the day. Chances are, they are also feeling overwhelmed or have at some point.

Talking about it with other professionals who are dealing with the same challenges can help you realize you are not alone. While it may be tough to bring up, every single person I spoke to immediately empathized.

Man looking at phone and smiling
A quick call with a friend or loved one can help when you feel overwhelmed.

A quick, five-minute call can be all it takes to make you realize you can tackle that next marketing project.

  1. Make and use a Message Map

If you regularly read my blog, you already know I recommend making a Message Map for everything. That’s because they work.

I worked with two Message Maps to handle my feelings of being overwhelmed. First, I made sure my personal Message Map was up to date. That’s the map that tells my personal story—why I do what I do.

Second, I made a Message Map about what was making me feel overwhelmed and the things I could control to get my stress level down.

I printed out both maps and put them on my office wall, so I can refer to them whenever I need to take a breath and refocus.

  1. Break work down into smaller, doable projects

Do you work in content marketing and need to write a website? Instead of thinking of the entire website, get one page done. Then the next one. Breaking it down into smaller chunks will make it seem easier to accomplish.

Are you in public relations and need to plan a media campaign around a new product? Start with a one-page plan that outlines your objectives, goals, strategies, and metrics. Then move on to your media list. Tackle each element one at a time, and the entire project will seem less daunting.

Chances are high that every person reading this was already aware of and agrees with most of these tips. I was too. It’s actually doing them that makes the difference. The move from agreement to action is longer and more difficult than the move from awareness to agreement.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, try taking one or more of these actions.

Life is too short to spend time feeling overwhelmed.

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