“Mom, are you drunk or something?” 

The question came from my seventh grader from the backseat of the car, in between her infant sister’s car seat and our neighbor’s kid. She had reason to wonder. I had just taken our carpool in the wrong direction on the highway.


We were running close on time as it was, and now we were guaranteed to spend an extra 10 minutes righting our course. So they were definitely going to be late. Again. Not to mention that once I got home, before I even thought about work, I still needed to nurse the baby and squeeze in a much-needed shower.

My kitchen table was spread with a pile of papers, an empty wine glass, my uncharged laptop still open to the MLS page I’d been poring over the night before, and a dangerously close bowl of someone’s warm cereal milk. In the pile of papers was: an unsigned permission slip, our unfilled-out census form, a variety of bills, a dentist reminder card, and last month’s newsletter from my favorite non-profit organization.

I sat there feeling like a complete failure. I couldn’t get my kids to school on time, clients were waiting too long for me to respond, my house was a disaster, and I hadn’t done something just for myself in years. I was overwhelmed on a grand scale.

Macro Overwhelm

Overwhelm for real estate professionals, especially those with lots of responsibility in their personal lives, is one of the biggest obstacles to success. More specifically, they suffer from ‘Macro Overwhelm’ (like I was), with multiple categories of to-do lists, meetings, and follow-ups needed because you’re filling so many roles at once: agent, parent, spouse, citizen, friend, PERSON. 

This differs from Micro Overwhelm, which is still a challenge, but more situational than systemic (more on that in my next blog). People in Macro Overwhelm report feeling ‘spread too thin’ and not performing particularly well in any area of their lives, leading to guilt, dread, and frustration. 

We’ve all been there. But there is a way out.

Three ways out of Macro Overwhelm

Look at the big picture

Macro means ‘big,’ and by managing the big things, the little things also tend to go better. 

What are your most important Global Goals and priorities for the next six months? Suppose you have specific things to focus on (i.e., train for a 10K, plan a wedding, raise a puppy, etc.). In that case, you will be able to give purpose to the day-to-day tasks and projects, knowing the suffering and sacrifice bring you closer to something really important.

Do a Commitment Audit

Oftentimes, Macro Overwhelm comes from getting yourself tied up in too many things. 

Start by making a list: Family, relationship, community, primary job, side hustle, church, etc. Look at all the things you are committed to and score them in terms of how much they really matter to YOU. Then go to the bottom of the list and start cutting things out. You will have to endure some momentary discomfort, but you will free up time and energy for the things that actually matter to you, and you will do them well.

The Tentative No

To keep yourself from getting into Macro Overwhelm in the first place, start using the Tentative No. Every time you get asked to join a new committee or add another client, no matter what your first impulse is, you say, “I’ve got a pretty full plate right now, though I’m honestly intrigued by this opportunity. So I’m going to give you a Tentative No and get back to you by Friday with a final answer.” 

If it’s an opportunity that you really would love to take on, you need to make sure you’ve got room for it before you say yes. You may need to stop doing one thing in order to make room for this one, so you need the time to evaluate, discuss it with your family, and sleep on it before committing.

Macro Overwhelm is pretty hard to avoid altogether, especially when you’re starting something new, whether it be a business or a family. But with a strategic approach to your mindset and behavior, even in that chaos, it’s possible to perform at a high level, feel proud of your work, and enjoy a sense of peace.