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Learning to Stop White Rabbiting and Complete Tasks More Effectively

It’s Saturday morning, you have approximately 1,362 errands to run and household tasks to accomplish before you meet some friends for dinner later that evening.

You start the laundry, but in the middle of sorting, you remember you need to turn off the sprinklers in the backyard. On the way inside, you see the patio table is covered in dust, so you go to wipe it off, but get sidetracked getting a towel, because you see the cat has thrown up on the floor.

You have just lost 30 minutes of your day with pretty much nothing to show for it, which makes you even more stressed. The pressure to get things done, even faster, starts to increase. Carrying on like this will make you an irritable and tired dinner date, and yet you press on.

You’ve just become a white rabbit.

If you’ve ever read the Lewis Carroll classic Alice in Wonderland, you might be familiar with the white rabbit character and his favorite mantra, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.” Almost all of us have felt like this at one time, but some people feel like the white rabbit every day. Too much to do, with not enough time to do it.

How to Stop White Rabbiting

The best thing to do in an overly busy moment may be counterintuitive – stop and relax. First sit down and allow yourself to spend two minutes stressing out and going through your task list in your head. Then switch to concentrating on just breathing in and out for three minutes.

When the to-do list comes back in your head (which it inevitably will), realized it’s not a problem. The mind loves to think. Recognize that it is perfectly natural for your brain to do this and gently refocus on your breathing. Think in and out, in and out, focusing on the place where your breath changes from an inhale to an exhale.

Why to Spend Time Relaxing and Refocusing

Don’t think you have time to chill out even for five minutes? Consider this for just a moment: are you better able to think and act effectively when you are calm or when you are stressed? Of course, the answer is calm.

This small five-minute relaxation process will allow your brain to refocus and then when you are done, you can make a clear decision about what you really need to tackle that day, rather than grouping all of the tasks into emergency status.

Finally when you’ve selected what to do, complete one of the tasks as fully as you possibly can, before you switch to the next task. NO MULTI-TASKING! Your brain will thank you.

Many overly busy people have trouble relaxing. So it’s important to learn how to slow down and stop compulsive multi-tasking. Learning how living in the moment rather than the future, can decrease anxiety.

Even the white rabbit needs a nap occasionally.

Learning to Stop White Rabbiting and Complete Tasks More Effectively

Hope Arnold

Hope is a Radically Open DBT Senior Clinician and 1-day trainer for Radically Open LTD organization. As a self identified overcontrolled person, she works to help her clients learn to relax, take themselves less seriously and be the person they want to be. Perfectionism, anxiety, rigidity, detailed focus, risk aversion and loneliness are some of the areas that overcontrolled people struggle to navigate. In her writing Hope uses humor and real life stories to help overcontrolled individuals make the changes that will bring happiness to their lives. Hope is licensed as a LCSW in Colorado, Texas, and Virginia. She has a private practice in Denver, Colorado.

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APA Reference
Arnold, H. (2018). Learning to Stop White Rabbiting and Complete Tasks More Effectively. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Mar 2018
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