There’s just too much to do and not enough time to get it all done!
If you ever feel this way at work, you’re not alone.
Today’s demanding work environments and technology keep you hooked to work 24/7, and it has a large number of workers feeling overwhelmed.
Most of the time, being overwhelmed boils down to having too many priorities to deal with, trying to please too many people and not having enough time or resources available.
No matter how you define it, being overwhelmed can stifle your creativity, defeat your productivity, lead you to make more mistakes and minimise your feelings of accomplishment.
Before we look at how we remove overwhelm let’s have a look at what it is and why we need to address it.
Overwhelming is that feeling that everything is just too much, that feeling that we will never get everything done, that there are too many things on the to-do list at the end of the day and that we don’t have the time or the ability to do anything about it.
So we know what it is but why do we need to actively look to remove it rather than simply waiting for it to pass?
At its best overwhelm can be frustrating, leading to that “I wish I could just get more done” thoughts.
At its worst, though overwhelmed can be completely debilitating. It deprives us of happiness, productivity, achievement and success. It can stifle creativity and lead to even bigger issues.
Left unattended and overwhelmed can lead to levels of negative self-talk which take us to the point of simply giving up.
It can affect our emotional state and even our physical health.
That’s why we need to have a strategy to get on top of it.
Here are six things you need to know and work on in order to overcome overwhelm.
Remember that being overwhelmed is perfectly normal
We have lots of competing interests and pressures on us on a day-to-day basis so being overwhelmed will happen.
Knowing it’s normal helps because it shows that we are not alone in the situation and that if others experience and overcome it then we can too.
Once you recognize it’s normal then the following five steps will help to resolve it.
We should look at overwhelm like an onion.
There are a series of events (layers) that happen to us over a period of time and as they layer on top of each other we move closer and closer to overwhelm.
As overwhelm is caused by layering issues, we need to unpeel those layers in prefer to overcome it.
Each of these steps is a layer of that process and the removal of the overwhelm comes from the cumulative effect of all the steps being taken.
Here are the next five steps:
We have accepted that being overwhelmed is normal.
It’s normal in business and in everyday life.
One thing we can do is to take a day out.
One of the greatest objections I hear to that is “ I just don’t have time” When I ran this topic on a Mastermind session last week one of our members made a great point to that objection.
Graham said that he used to say that he didn’t have time to take a break either until one day he had been overwhelmed for so long that his body shut down and he needed to take several days off to recover.
If he had instead scheduled a day or half day here and there he would have been able to remove the overwhelm and not reached a breaking point.
If you don't think you can cope with a whole or even a half day out then at least find something which is your “happy place” and schedule some time there.
Perhaps it's a round of golf, a movie or some time with friends or family. I recently took a day out to spend with my grandchildren.
The following day my thinking was far clearer, my productivity increased, and I was more creative and overall happier.
Whatever the day point or happy place may be for you, the trick is to schedule it. Lock it into your calendar so you can be sure it happens.
There is one layer peeled.
It may be the Why you started your business or “Why” you have the job you have.
The “why” may be your big picture goal, your vision or it may simply be the next “reward’ you are working toward.
Whatever it may be, the trick here is to remind yourself of it.
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I had a chat with a mastermind member last week who was in overwhelm mode and i went through this process with her.
When I asked Nat what her “why” was she told me that she couldn’t remember.
Gee, if she was just ploughing on in her busy business day after day without remembering why she was doing it, it is little wonder the overwhelm took over.
If you are struggling to remember your “why” ask those around you, your family, friends, team members or clients.
Think about the impact that what you do has on others, the transformation that it brings to their lives and to yours.
Understanding your “why” may just be the shot in the arm you need to motivate you to push on and peel another layer off that overwhelm onion.
Oh, and once you have it to remember it, write it out and put it on a wall somewhere as a constant reminder to you.
We all know the saying that a failure to plan is a plan to fail.
Plans, in my mind, shouldn’t be complicated, they should be simple and even better if you can put them on to one or two pages.
Having a plan will give you the two important C’s, certainty and clarity. with a plan you know exactly where you want to go and precisely how you’ll get there.
Again, one of the most common objections I hear is “I’m just too busy to stop and plan Mark”.
You see though it’s a bit like the guy cutting down trees (in a sustainable plantation of course).
He starts the day with a nice sharp axe and works his way through the trees at a great pace.
The difficulty is however that with every tree his axe becomes a little buster and so the cutting becomes harder and harder.
By the end of the day, if he didn’t take some time out to sharpen his axe, he might as well be using a sledgehammer.
His job would be incredibly difficult and each tree would take substantially longer.
It is the same with planning.
Taking some dedicated time out to plan will save a lot of hard work overtime.
You will get certainty and clarity.
There are another two layers of the overwhelmed onion peeled away.
Any task or project which contributes to overwhelm can and should be broken down into bite-sized chunks.
It reminds me of this great quote I saw which said “The problem is that we treat our business (our job or even our life) as a marathon rather than a series of short sprints with breaks in between.
That’s a cool saying.
And it reminds us of the value of taking a project and breaking it up into its parts. every project has steps to take toward completion.
Looking at a large project or problem as a whole only contributes to the overwhelm. breaking it into achievable pieces works to remove the overwhelm.
Breaking tasks or projects down will give you structure, and it may also reveal the fact that you don’t have to do it all yourself.
By seeing the component parts of any project we may also see where those parts can be completed by someone else, potentially someone who would be better and faster than us.
Is that another layer of the overwhelming onion I hear hitting the floor?
In Mastermind we have our One Page Plan and our Sprint Planners. these are simple one-page tools that help implement the other steps in the process.
The one-page plan is simple, it just makes to look at your “why” and your big picture vision, then work out what you want to achieve in the next twelve months that will fit in with that vision.
Next, once you have the twelve-month goals clear, set up some projects that you can achieve in the next 90 days which once completed will step you closer to your twelve-month goals.
Complete that all on one page and you have addressed the major parts of this overwhelming removal process.
You can do the same with breaking down projects.
Write the tools out on a pounced of paper and assign a time frame for each step, piece by piece.
Then you have a clear process in place.
Following these six steps will help you peel the necessary layers from your overwhelm and help you move forward with clarity, energy, creativity, and most importantly, confidence.