Ashlee standing in front of a brick wall looking up to her left and smiling. Her right hand is held up near her right shoulder with the palm facing upwards.

Ashlee M Boyer

You can find me talking about issues surrounding Disability, Accessibility, & Mental Health on Twitter, or you can find me regularly live-knitting or live-coding on Twitch. I'm @AshleeMBoyer on all the platforms I use.

How I Get Things Done When I'm Feeling Overwhelmed

Wednesday, June 12, 20192 minute read

#self-care#mental-health

Fiona Thomas, author of Depression in a Digital Age, has a free ebook called How to Get Stuff Done with Depression. In it, I found advice that helped me in my worst times. A little over a year ago, I was still on campus at Rose and was so depressed and anxious I could hardly function. It's an evil cycle: I felt bad about being unable to be a good student, employee at my part-time job, dog mom to the lovely Trooper, or partner to Zach; then I felt worse because I couldn't perform pretty simple tasks around our place such as loading the dishwasher.

At some point, I Googled for any online resource or support group I could find. I was desperate to pick myself back up again. That's where I found Fiona's free ebook. There are several good pieces of information in there, but what I've found that helps me the most is this:

All you have to do to get stuff done is be productive for ten minutes. Out of your entire day, all you need to do is make a promise to do a little work for ten minutes.

It sounds a bit silly at first, but what just 10 minutes of productivity can do is start to build momentum for the rest of your day. It's the same concept as what Naval Adm. William H. McRaven explains about why you should make your bed every day:

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

What I've also learned is that we must be OK with just one 10-minute task. We need to be always gentle with ourselves because this tactic (probably all others, too) is not a fail-safe or it alone will not solve everything. Definitely consult a professional for help when you're so deep in anxiety and/or depression that you're unable to function. But this is one thing that continues to help me personally, even as I'm mostly doing better than I was 1 year ago.