Sometimes the big picture is so overwhelming that you can hardly see your hands in front of you. When that's the case, you need to step back, take a deep breath, and break down what is overwhelming you into workable parts to make it more manageable.
When I first got into the coaching business, I would look at what the head coach had to do, and I couldn't imagine having to deal with all the things he had to deal with. And yet, when the opportunity came for me to become the head coach of the Jets, I jumped in with both feet.
I came in knowing that it was a great honor, that I had achieved something I had set out to do a long time ago. Looking back now, I remember getting a lot of pats on the back and a lot of handshakes, but feeling the loneliest I've ever felt once I walked into my office that first day and closed the door behind me. All of a sudden I realized, 'Hey, I'm the head coach. Now what do I do?' Everyone around me had walked away and I was by myself, and all the plans and ideas that had been rushing through my head for the past 10 years were rushing to the front. All I could think was, 'Where do I start? How can I do this?'
I was clearly overwhelmed by what had just happened to me. But I took a deep breath, sat down, and thought, 'Okay, first things first. I'll do the calendar.' The calendar is the schedule; it lets everyone know where to be and when and what we're doing. To me, that was a logical starting point. It wasn't taking on the entire job in one fell swoop; it was breaking it down so that I could do something that would point me in the right direction. So I sat there and got the calendar done from January to July, and immediately I felt as if I had some sort of grasp on the situation.
A friend of mine was faced with moving from a house she had lived in for 11 years and had just two months to do so. She kept looking at all the stuff she had accumulated over the years, and she found herself sitting on the couch staring into space, wondering how she was ever going to get everything packed and moved. But she told me she listened to my voice about paring things down and just did one area at a time. She didn't think about the enormousness of the move; she just concentrated on doing a little bit each day. Doing that gave her confidence that the move would get done if she just kept chipping away at what she had to do.
I've also found that if I'm overwhelmed by the things I have to do on a certain day, I make sure I write everything down. You're never as organized in your head as you can be on paper. Seeing it there in front of you makes the task seem not so impossible. It also lessens your chances of forgetting to do something important.