• Sara Torpey

Feeling Scattered? Try this!

We have all had moments where we feel overwhelmed by all of the things that we have to do. Sometimes the ‘moments’ can be pretty darn long... the feeling of having so many things to do that you just aren’t sure how it will ever possibly get done might be one you carry around more often than not.

The word I often hear clients use to describe the constant feeling of too many things going in too many directions is ‘scattered.’ I imagine that feeling like this: it’s like someone took all of the ideas, tasks, plans, and responsibilities that are on your plate, put them in a big giant paper bag, shook them together, and then spilled them on the floor all over the place.

Can you relate to this feeling?

We all wear lots of hats day to day, so it more likely than not that at some point you feel pulled in too many directions at once. For example, I own multiple businesses, have 2 kids (ages 8 and 5), teach, and have a spouse who travels for work quite a bit - there are times where I, just like you, have a lot to manage at once, and sometimes I get a little scattered.

So, when you’re feeling scattered, and there really are just too many things happen at once, how do you actually regain a sense of control, and a sense of focus?

And how do you manage your time and energy so that you don’t have to walk around feeling scattered to start?

Before we answer that question, let’s set the stage a little with a few key ideas.

We all have three kinds of things to do in any one day:

  1. Things that really do matter, and need to get done sooner than later - like, today.

  2. Things that matter and need to get done, but that don’t have to be done TODAY.

  3. Things don’t belong on your plate at all.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the things in group 3.

Think about what kinds of items all jumbled together feel completely scattered. In talking with clients, and even thinking about my own experiences, often when we step back, we find that there are at least a few things on the list that we created for ourselves that really don’t matter. It might be making a fancy veggie tray or dessert for the neighborhood party (rather than just buying one at the store), or rewriting all the text on your website (when really you just need to pick and choose what to adjust), but odds are there are things you can either simplify, or totally let go.

There are also going to be things in the scattered mess of stuff that you can give away. Here, my husband does the grocery shopping. I have given that one up - I make the list, yes, but I can do that at my desk, and he then is the one that takes the hour or however long it takes to actually go to the store. It’s not always exactly how I would have done it, but it IS one less thing in my own mess to handle. What do you have on your plate that you don’t have to do yourself?

(And yes, we all have control-freak tendencies but feeling scattered all the time is a sign that it's time to sing the song, and as they say, “Let it gooooooo…”).

Okay. So you know that there are things that either can be done more simply, can come out of the mix entirely, or that you can give away. Great. Now it’s time for the big trick.

Are you ready?

Look at all of the things you have to do today (group #1) and pick one. I generally suggest trying to pick one task that is either something that seems is difficult, or that you don’t love to do (I’ll explain why).

And then sit down, set a timer and do that for an hour.

Forget the rest of what’s on the list for a minute. Just do that task that you picked to the fullest extent possible, and take it to either finished or as far as it can go in the time you have.


Take a breath. Look around. Take another breath. Odds are you just got more of that task done than you expected to.

Now pat yourself on the back. Hold a mini-party. You did something you really needed to do.

Then, pat yourself on the back again. You did something you needed to do and that you don’t love doing (and likely had been avoiding, hence the pileup on your plate...and this is why it helps to pick something you'd rather not do to start with!).

When you are done with your mini-party, take a step back. Are you still feeling scattered, or is it starting to ease?

If it’s starting to ease, great. If not, that’s okay too - sometimes it takes a couple of tries to dig through and get feeling less overwhelmed.

Either way, now take another look at the bunch of things you have to do (group 1). Pick another one.

Sit down and do that for an hour.

Have another mini-party.

Evaluate where you are, and how you are feeling.

Repeat as needed.

At a certain point, you’ll have tackled the tasks that were really weighing on you. When you do that, I find that usually the feeling of scattered-ness starts to wander off to find someone else to bother.

Once you are feeling better about it all, it’s worth actually sitting down and doing a dive into what’s actually one your plate, your goals, and your priorities so that you can avoid inviting the feeling of being scattered back for a visit! (I have a blog post, and a short workbook that will help with this, find it here!).

It IS possible to get enough control over your plate to (mostly) avoid feeling completely scattered. It just takes some prep-work.

And remember, at least once in a while we all get overwhelmed.

We all have times when we have too much on our plates.

We all get scattered when we are trying to do too many things in too many directions at once.

What matters is finding ways to work through feeling scattered in a way that both help you to overcome the feeling right now, AND to build strategies to help you avoid stepping back into those feelings once you’re out!

You can do this!

P.S. If you are feeling scattered, and would like help working through the process of getting from scattered to focused, I can help. Let’s talk about what you have going on, and figure out the shortest path to sending that scattered feeling packing for good! Book a one-on-one conversation here.

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