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Overwhelmed? Here's 3 Reasons Why

Reviewing last week’s livestream, my husband started flooding me with text messages: “Need to figure out a better camera angle.” “Mugs banging on desk very annoying.” “Lighting much better.” Most of them were technical details, as befits a pair of former theatrical professionals.

But one note was purely about content. “We need a show/series on how to not get overwhelmed. Our last episode is overwhelming and all over the place.”

Well, it’s a livestream so I expect it to be all over the place, but I am in agreement about overwhelming. Just about everything in homeschooling can be overwhelming when it’s new. Which curriculum to use? What are the legal requirements in my state? What is Classical? What is unschooling? How do I get everything done in a day? Help!

So, this week I’m talking about overwhelm, and how to avoid it.

Things can be overwhelming for a few reasons:

1) No clear criteria for separating good information from junk; if you don’t know what the signal is, everything is noise.

2) Too much information in too short a timeframe; it’s like trying to drink from a firehose.

3) No idea how to organize the information, the activities, the time; when everything is a priority, nothing is.

Each of these reasons for overwhelm has its own set of cures. But the starting point is asking yourself “why am I overwhelmed?”. Once you have the answer, you can begin to address the cause.

Separating the signal from the noise begins with figuring out what exactly you are looking for. Ask yourself: What is my goal? What are the acceptable conditions for achieving it? If your state requires a portfolio of work to be turned in, you may find that information on unschooling is just noise for you right now, for example. What are my resources? Not just money; what about time or energy? These questions will help you develop a set a criteria that will help you filter out the information you need now from the untimely or unhelpful.

Too much information can be a problem even when you’re sure of what you’re looking for. Here’s a few ways to get to a more manageable amount. If you’re watching a video, pause to take notes, watch again later if it’s a livestream, and check show notes for highlights or summaries. For books and articles, look for summary statements that give you the “TL;DR”. Remember that you’re looking for one good new idea. You can always read or watch again to get more.

If you know what you’re trying to do, and have the information you want, but organizing it is proving difficult, start by asking “what is absolutely the most important?” You only have so many hours in a day. If you’re committed to making Latin the centerpiece of your education, make sure that you build your schedule with that as the thing that can’t slide. Once you’ve figured out the things that are immovable because they involve commitments outside your house, like an online class, or are your “most important thing”, then starting fitting the other things around that. You are probably going to run out of time before you run out of things to do. That’s okay. Figure out which things are “would be nice” and decide those get done on high energy days where you have the capacity and the schedule has the space. And don’t sweat it otherwise. Decide the one thing that happens even when you barely have energy to put dishes away. And let go of everything else.

In summary, if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

1) Begin with the end in mind: ask questions to figure out exactly what you’re trying to do.

2) Control the information flow: read summaries, pause, take notes, look for one good idea at a time.

3) Align your “most important thing” with the end you’re pursuing, and give yourself permission to let peripheral things go.


Want more ideas? We livestream every Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM Central time at our YouTube Channel. Join us for coffee and conversation.

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