Three Words to Fight Overwhelm

Donnabeth Aniban
3 min readSep 1, 2022
Photo by Fernando Cortizo on Unsplash

A ten-year-old lad had a humungous task of finishing a project about birds which was due the next day. The magnitude of the task paralyzed him so he couldn’t start. His wise father told him, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

The lad is best-selling author Anne Lamott's brother, and this anecdote inspired her to write the book Bird by Bird. Often times we’re like Anne’s brother. We won’t move forward because we fix our eyes on how big our project is.

We get overwhelmed by how many words we need to write, how many clothes we need to fold, how wide the area we need to clean, how big the structure we need to build, and so on. There’s only one way to finish every task no matter how big they are — one at a time. One word at a time, one piece of clothing at a time, one area at a time, one brick at a time. If we start with one, followed by another, then another, our project will eventually be finished.

If you have too much on your plate, remember this:

Bird by bird.

Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

One Day at a Time

Aside from tasks, the bird by bird principle can also be applied to how we live our days. Reading the news these days can make any sane person concerned. It’s important to care about and…



Donnabeth Aniban

Mom since 2011. Filipino. Former nurse and teacher. Writer and entrepreneur atm. I write mostly about life, business, health, productivity, and motherhood.