Do you feel pressured by all the chores and goals you’ve put off? That to-to list might be nagging at you. As your guilt rises, your self-esteem might be going down.

Frustration is the state of feeling incompetent. We imagine everyone else is functioning well, while we’re failing to keep up.

We’ve all seen those TV programs about organizing closets and tackling the junk in the basement. Those shows are fun to watch.

But we can get very frustrated after those shows go off the air. Why? Our own unfinished business starts coming to mind.

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To reduce frustration, it pays to keep moving forward on changing small things. Little chores do add up.

“What we’re neglecting to do is causing our frustration,” says a psychologist we’ll call Brandon. “Few people are frustrated by the work they’ve accomplished. It’s the problems we can’t find time to fix that make us crazy.”

Brandon says his own neglected chores at home made him feel hypocritical in his therapy practice.

“I’d be working with stressed-out clients,” he explains, “but I also knew my own stress was growing.”

Brandon says he was also neglecting his two young sons and his wife. The family hadn’t spent much quality time together in a year. He’s vowed to change this in the coming months.

To clean up our personal and professional lives, we all need to grab hold of neglected areas we need to face.

These kinds of techniques can move you in the right direction:

  • Picture the steps from A-Z on completing a larger task. It’s easier to divide chores into manageable chunks, if you can visualize the outcome. For example, do you need to ask your brother to help you assemble some backyard play equipment for your kids? How much time would it take?
  • Ask whom you need to hire. For example, if you want to put up a new garage door, call an installer. We get into real frustration if we believe we can do too much ourselves.
  • Make sure money isn’t holding you up. We can all postpone getting things done because of money needed. Plan to sell an older car you don’t need to build a new patio, for example. Lining up how to pay for changes is often the real battle.
  • Get excited about what you want to improve. Mental energy really plays into the mix of moving your life forward. Be sure to talk to yourself about how great you’ll feel as you change things for the better.

“I got really excited about taking some virtual music classes,” says a grandmother we’ll call Katie. “I’d wanted to play the guitar for years. My husband got enthused by watching me, so he dusted off his old violin. Together, we’re having a great time learning old tunes.”

Katie says all of her household chores and workplace obligations have kept her away from music lessons for years. However, she finally learned that playing guitar has given her more energy to get things done. She’s in a better mood, and she’s learning to write songs.

“I’ve always wanted to travel, and the pandemic has caused me a lot of frustration,” says a retired doctor we’ll call Paul. “I’ve worked so hard, but I feel stuck in my hometown.”

Paul has decided, however, that he will start planning some trips. When it’s safe to travel more, he and his wife will have their ideas in place.

“We’re enjoying the planning process,” says Paul. “Just moving forward in our imagination is half the fun of figuring out what we’ll do in the future.”

Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Café at usawellnesscafe.org. Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist. ©2020 Person to Person. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.