4 steps to eliminate overwhelm

There are many tools and strategies to help you end overwhelm.

And I’m going to share my favorite one with you today.

This one is MAGIC!

I call it an open loop audit.

Open loops are all those things hanging out there that need action – a decision to be made or another action taken to complete them.

To close the loop.

Think of a computer with 30 tabs open at once – and that slows down the processing speed.

This is similar to what happens to your brain when you have too many “open tabs” or open loops.

Travel reservations to be made
Event RSVPs that need a response
Personal appointments to be scheduled
Purchases to be returned
Closets to be organized
Emails to be written
Bills to be paid

4 steps to managing overwhelm by closing open loops
➡️ Download
➡️ Categorize
➡️ Prioritize
➡️ Process

Step 1: Download

The first step in an open loop audit is to document ALL the things.

To do this, sit down, set a timer for 10 min and start to write or type all the things that you need to do, schedule, finish, etc.

Think beyond the obvious (today’s to-do list) and try to keep writing for the entire 10 min.

You’ll be amazed what comes to you during this process, Denee.

Consider weekly recurring items as well as monthly, quarterly, biannual tasks, etc.

The idea is to literally download ALL of the open loop items onto your list.

Just by taking this first step, you’re already starting to free up brain space.

Free up mental energy.

And taking the first step to reducing overwhelm.

Step 2: Categorize

Once you have your full list, next, divide the list into:
✅ Tasks
✅ Decisions
✅ Research

Tasks are the easiest, and most of these items comprise your typical “to-do” list.

Pick up dry cleaning, pay electric bill, wash the car …

Step 3: Prioritize

You can tackle this task list by prioritizing according to timelines.

Does this need done today?
This week?
This month?

Assign a due date and then SCHEDULE it into your calendar.

Do this for your entire task list

Then, throw out your to-do list!

It’s all on your calendar now – right where it belongs.

And when you commit to sticking to your calendar,

It’s as good as done

Step 4: Process

The remainder of the items usually require some type of decision to be made.

These are the bad boys that are sucking your energy.

Unmade decisions and unrecognized decisions are MAJOR contributors to overwhelm.

The simple process of cataloging what decisions need to be made,

Clarifying whether you have all the information you need to decide

Or if you need to do some additional research,

Is the next step to reducing overwhelm.

So split the remainder of items up into “decide” and “research”.

Everything on the Decide list means you have all the information you need to make a decision.

It just needs to be made.

So use your favorite decision support tool or strategy, decide and move on.

Don’t overthink it anymore.
Trust yourself.
Decisions move you forward.

For the items on the Research list, determine what additional research needs to be done.

Do you need to check your partner’s schedule before you commit to attending an event?

Do you need to research hotel options before you plan a trip?

Clarify what additional information you need,

Then schedule time on your trusty calendar to complete that research.

Here’s another helpful hack to reduce overwhelm:

Give yourself the gift of CONSTRAINT

Limit your TIME investment

And the number of OPTIONS you’ll consider.

Do you need 10 min or 30 min or 3 hours to research three hotel options?

[HINT: If you think you need 3 hours to research hotel options for a trip, you are not choosing constraint. No judgment here. Just realize what you are CHOOSING.]

To close out the Research list,

Schedule the research tasks and times on your calendar

Keep your calendar commitments

Then follow the Decide algorithm above.

➡️ Download
➡️ Categorize
➡️ Prioritize
➡️ Process

There you go –
The end of overwhelm!

This is a great weekly activity to keep things on track and on time. I like to spend 30 min on Sunday evening each week using this tool. It may take a little longer at first until you get the hang of it. But practice makes progress!

The BONUS is you go to sleep at night without all those thoughts swirling in your head (beause they’re all on paper/digital record now)

Which sets you up for an AMAZING night’s sleep.

And who can’t use that?!!

Give it a try this week and watch what happens as overwhelm becomes something you USED to struggle with.


Here’s to overcoming overwhelm.

Denee Choice