Calm Down: This Message is for You If You Feel Crazed, Frantic, and Out-of-Control

We all need to calm down!  Can you say an ‘Amen!’ to that?  You might be reading this during the holiday season—or you might be reading it at any other time of the year, and it will still apply.  This article will use the acronym “CALM” to structure the suggestions and to help you remember the ideas.

C = Clear your mind’s clutter.

Your brain is filled with things to buy, ideas to implement, places to go, people to call, tasks to do, and so on.  It’s hard to be calm with all of this roaring around in your head.  You need to clear it out and here’s one way:

  1. Get yourself at least one package of index cards.
  2. Write down one (and only one) idea per card.
  3. Now sort those cards.  You can sort them in priority; you can sort them by “do now,” “do later,” “do never,” or any other combination.  But sort them so that you are only working on the ones that are most important (and may also have some urgency along with the importance–but never work on ones that are urgent only!)
  4. Carry these cards with you so you can constantly capture anything else that’s in your brain.

The idea is to clear your mind’s clutter.  Once you have put your ideas out on paper, then you can manipulate them as needed.  When ideas are only in your head, it’s hard to work with them!

A = Admit (and announce) that it won’t all get done.

Although you may consider yourself to be a “superwoman” or “superman” (and I’m quite sure you are), you really can’t get it all done.  You really can’t get caught up.  It’s not even an option, so admit it.  As Jennifer Yane said, “The only thing that has to be finished by next Tuesday is next Monday.”  You may want to post this quote someplace where you will see it over and over.

There is simply not enough time for you to do all the things you want to do, so you might as well admit it—and announce it to anyone else who needs to know, e.g., your husband, your children, your significant other, your employer (and that may be you), your neighbors…whoever it is that needs to know.

L = Learn to let go

It’s likely that if you’ve chosen to read this article (because you want to calm down), you need to let go of doing some things altogether.  It’s possible there are some things you used to do before you had children…but now it’s nigh unto impossible to do them. Let them go.

For others of you, it’s time to let go of perfection.  Here’s a key idea based on the research: It takes twice as long to do things perfectly as it does to do things to the 90% level. So if you have all the time in the world, then go right ahead and take everything you do to as close to perfect as humans can make things….but since time is probably an issue for you, then you have to choose what to spend twice as long on (to get it done “perfectly”).

For others who are reading this article, you have to let go of control.  Hello?  Does that sound like I might be talking about you?  We cannot control everything, no matter what.  If you are a person of faith, then you have probably heard the phrase “let go and let God,” and it’s not a bad one to keep in mind.

M =Maximize what is most meaningful.

The last letter in the CALM acronym is M, which is to maximize what is most meaningful.  You very likely know what it is that is most meaningful—and if you don’t, then you might want to do some thinking about that—right away.

The holiday season is a perfect example of people who aren’t “calm” and are completely forgetting (or ignoring) what is most meaningful.  Parents are screaming at their children at stores.  Couples are fussing and fuming over what size turkey to buy.  Friends are complaining to one another about what a pain it is to buy presents, etc.  Individuals let themselves get so run down that they are sick (and tired) throughout the holidays.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?

This season, and every season, we need to remember that life is short…and we better make sure we are focusing on what is most meaningful.  Take stock of what that is.  Then maximize your time, energy, and attention on those people, tasks, responsibilities, commitments, or whatever it might be for you…that is/are most meaningful.

To reiterate….CALM down, i.e.,

  • Clear your mind’s clutter
  • Admit and announce that it won’t all get done
  • Learn to let go
  • Maximize what is most meaningful

Calm, cool, and collected isn’t just a phrase from an old deodorant commercial; it’s a way to be and a way to live.


If you’d like additional ideas for staying calm, consider signing up for one of the following (Note:  Both are free and provide weekly suggestions via email):

The article and the ideas listed above are created by Dr. Meggin McIntosh, “The Ph.D. of Productivity”™.  Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin supports people who want to sustain a life of peaceful, predictable productivity.  Visit her website at for more information.

By |2017-07-08T15:50:01+00:00December 11th, 2012|Personal Productivity|0 Comments

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