Idea Overload(whelm)


Lately, my brain just will not stop.

I’m suffering from a serious case of idea overwhelm.

Ideas for blog posts. Ideas for work projects. Ideas for side businesses. Ideas for solving the world’s problems. Ideas for re-decorating my room. Ideas for simplifying my routine. Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Too many. I have too many.

I’m absolutely, positively not saying this to brag. My ideas are actually overwhelming me to the point of paralysis. I can’t focus for long enough to fully write down an idea before I’m on to the next one. It’s exhausting.

Here is the problem with ideas: sometimes, simply writing them down makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. But the real trouble here is that I haven’t.

Coming up with the idea for something is only like 5% of it. DOING that something is where progress is made. Where revolutions are started. Where I cross the threshold of being able to actually pat myself on the back.

So the problem? I haven’t been doing much of anything the past two months. Just dreaming. Scheming. List-making.

Hence the idea overload(whelm) state. Here’s my plan to get out of this state:

  1. Gather all of the random notes tucked away in three different notebooks, an assortment of Evernotes and Notes on my phone into one, central location (probably Trello).
  2. Do a gut-check: Which of these ideas are really worthwhile? Which are the most me? Which did I come up with primarily because I wanted to emulate someone else? Which will bring value in the future – not just for me, but for someone else?
  3. And then? SHIP. Pound things out. Turn plans into actions. Get shit done. Share it with the world.

I read a great blog post the other day while spiraling down the path of non-productivity (again) that really emphasized the idea that done is better than perfect. So true, so wise.

All of you New Years Resolution-ers, goal-setters, trailblazers or whatevertheheck you want to call yourselves, join me in doing something this week.

Making something. Moving the needle forward. Let’s roll. 


  • A ton of ideas is both a wonderful blessing and a terrible curse. I always feel like my mind goes in fits and starts: a flood of new possibilities coming in so fast I can’t write them all down, and then a slower trickle that sometimes needs a little encouragement. Organization is definitely one of the keys to reining it in and channeling that energy in some powerful GSD.

    I love Cassie and Manda’s blogs, and I’m so happy to see them here too! The blogosphere is such a small world. I’m also floundering my way into sponsorship (though I think you’ve done pretty dang well for yourself–it didn’t seem like floundering from my end!) but mostly excited to share extra blog love and hopefully connect more people.

    • Thank you! AH you’re so sweet. Sponsorship = way more easy when the ladies that hop on board are as awesome as the ones I was lucky enough to get! Y’all are so great, I feel like I could promote the hell out of you guys and still be ‘floundering.’ And yes, blogland = small, small world. Can’t wait to see what you do officially with sponsorships!

  • Millie says:

    Wow..I think this is a blessing!I wish I had the same flow of ideas coz right now am kind of blank. Just take it easy, and I think your action plan is perfect for this overload!

    • Thanks Millie! Hopefully the idea genie comes back to you soon – I’m sure she will! 🙂

  • Cassie says:

    Thanks so much for the lovely write-up here! Very happy to be in such great company. 🙂 And I TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, ABSOLUTELY relate to the feeling you describe here. I’ve had a ton of ideas lately and am so glad for the inspiration… but holy crap, man. One thing at a time. My mind doesn’t know where to focus. Time to figure it out while I still have some time before school starts back up again!

    • Ah so glad I’m not alone! If only my brain had an “off” switch every now and then, right?

  • Kara says:

    I have the same problem with ideas, where sometimes coming up with them and writing them down makes me feel productive enough to say that I’ve accomplished something. A week later, I’ll find an entire list of blog post ideas that I’m no longer excited to write about (and you know how those posts always turn up.) I definitely need to work on trying to write something, even a bullet point list, while the idea is still fresh in my mind.

    • AH YES! 1000x this – I hate coming across those lists like, “what? really? whyyy?” – hopefully there are a few gems in all of the ones I’ve been jotting down lately.

  • Ideas come in fits and spurts for me and though I have a tendency to completely exhaust myself when I’m having an onslaught of ideas and inspiration/motivation, I also tend to embrace it and work my heart out because I know the wave will pass and I’ll go back to a normal pace of ideas and just needing to catch up with myself. It’s a constant cycle for me, so I’m learning to run with it when I get idea overwhelm and then accept that it takes a few weeks of sleeping more and taking it easy to recover and build up for the next round.

    I am into lists, of course, but I’ve also been working hard to make lists that include a big picture top bullet point, with multiple, smaller action items and then I sit down and get at it. I’ll admit, when I’m in idea mode, it’s hard to focus and actually accomplish tasks, but when I break it down and then get after it, I tend to create my own snowball effect that gets others involved and then I kind of HAVE to get it done. Again, exhausting, but super productive.

    When I was studying abroad, I’d be up all night not being able to sleep bc so many ideas were on my mind. My Samoan flat mate told me once to just get up and do it if I couldn’t sleep. So I did. Sometimes, i’d be up all night, but usually, I’d just write down my idea so I could sleep and tackle in in the morning. If it’s an idea that can be done in less than 5 minutes, do it now, if it’s going to take longer, write it down and then get after it, small task by small task.

    Taking my own advice is hard sometimes. Which means wine, awesome playlists, puppies and secret dance parties all through my house are what’s really behind my productivity. Seriously.

    • Ha, yes! Sign me up for wine, playlists puppies and dance parties! Sounds like the road to productivity. I’m FINALLY getting stuff done this weekend, so HOORAY!

  • Erika says:

    “Here is the problem with ideas: sometimes, simply writing them down makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. But the real trouble here is that I haven’t. Coming up with the idea for something is only like 5% of it. DOING that something is where progress is made. Where revolutions are started. Where I cross the threshold of being able to actually pat myself on the back.”


  • I’ve noticed that I spend SO MUCH TIME planning things. I will decide on something and put ALL of my energy into the planning, but then I suck at the doing and hardly ever attack and finish my plans. This post spoke RIGHT to me, thank you for sharing. GET SHIT DONE is my motto for 2014.

    • YEAHHH GET SHIT DONE. Let’s do it! 🙂

  • Manda says:

    Thank you so much for the lovely mention!

    I’m with you on the idea overload(whelm). I tend to get inspired in fits and spurts and there are times where there’s not enough time in the day for me to work on all that I want, and others when I have zero inspiration for anything. I love keeping a notebook with me to jot things down as they come to me. It helps with managing my overall ~creative process~

  • […] Oh, how all too well I can relate to Erika’s post on idea overwhelm. […]

  • […] on Idea Overwhelm and gettin’ shit […]

  • […] there are all the ideas: idea overload(whelm) (via All Things […]

  • I totally hear this! For me, it’s not necessarily ideas of new things to start (though sometimes it’s that), but also books I want to read to learn new things and grow, things I want to be doing, changes I want to make, things to do for my blog…it can so easily overwhelm.
    I’ve recently been listening to Kat Lee’s podcast called How They Blog (amazing!). One of the most helpful concepts for me was when she talked about the different hats we wear as bloggers (or really, in many areas of our lives)–the CEO hat (visionary, big picture goals, WHY we’re doing things), the manager hat (creating concrete goals and action plans, calendars, tracking, etc), and the writer hat (the creative side). The problem comes when we try to wear more than one hat at once…we sit down to write, but then aren’t sure what we want to write about or get sidetracked by the technical stuff or a myriad of other things. If we first establish our big picture vision, then give ourselves chunks of time to wear our manager hat and implement ideas, then when we sit down to write, we have the freedom to do just that. When we’re a manager, we’ll know why we’re doing certain tasks because we’ve established that it contributes toward our vision and big picture goals.
    Anyway, it’s been super helpful for me to think of things that way. I consciously think about what hat I’m wearing. I have been giving myself time to wear my CEO hat and dream and find my vision…and then giving myself time to plan out what projects to do and when…and then when I write, I can do just that…It’s still very much a work in progress, but it’s been helpful for me in finding some focus.

    • Hi Naomi!

      Wow, these are really awesome ideas. I have never thought of blogging like this and DEFINITELY jump between a bunch of different hats sometimes, which makes me just plain inefficient.

      I’m definitely going to check out that podcast. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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