How to manage overwhelm during the expat transfer season?

Summer has traditionally been the transfer season for expats and there are probably quite a few expatriates out there that are preparing to move to another post (or return home) this summer.  And even though most know about the impending move in advance and some even begin to prepare months ahead of time, for many feelings of overwhelm show up and continue to increase as they get closer and closer to the actual date.

So what to do?  How do we manage the overwhelm, get everything done, and find enough time to say proper good-byes to the place that has been our home for the last few years?

The following exercise will help you tackle the feeling of overwhelm and will also help organize your to-do list into a group of very doable tasks – all in their due time.

  • Imagine that your day is a bucket.  The same kind of bucket a child would use to play on the beach.
  •  Now imagine that all of the things on your to-do list were either: big boulders, small gravel, sand, or waterBig boulders represent the big, important things; gravel represents things that are smaller but still somewhat important; sand represents even less important things, and water represents things that are the least important.
  • In order to fill in your bucket in the most effective way, you need to put in the boulders first. What are your boulders?  List them on a piece of paper.
  •  Now think of what your gravel would be.  List those tasks.
  •  Follow the gravel up with sand.  And then with water.
  •  Then schedule the boulders, followed by gravel, then sand, and then water.

Remember, you can create your bucket using the boulder-gravel-sand-water metaphor every single day.  This way you’ll know that you are tending to things that are most important in your life and still will have space for the lesser important tasks.

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Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

One response to “How to manage overwhelm during the expat transfer season?

  1. What I love about this visual metaphor is that it reminds your to prioritize your tasks, not merely list and accomplish them. We often tend to focus on the small, easy and least important tasks, and then congratulate ourselves on getting several things done!

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