I was going to focus this post on the overwhelm we experience in our businesses or work, but it’s not just business that causes our overwhelm. It’s in our everyday lives. It’s the mere fact we’re breathing in and out.
The quick comparison we do in our heads. How we’re measuring up to others— I’m not saying it’s ideal or what I would choose for us. But it happens. The anxiety we have from what’s going on in the world. One quick scroll of Twitter and it’s time to take a deep breath. All the communication, notifications, tagging, and updates. Go ahead and add in the bucket list BS and we’ve got ourselves a genuine overwhelm party.
It likely happens to you from time to time and it for sure happens to me as well. So let’s talk about how to deal with it when it flares up. When I’m in full blown overwhelm I’m usually jumping from tab to tab on my computer, picking up my phone with no purpose in mind, and not focusing on any one thing. Because the to-do list is looming and I’m trying to focus on ALL the things.
Sound familiar? Next time you find yourself here —
Try These Steps
1. Clear Your Head
When we’re in overwhelm I think of it like having too many tabs open on my computer. (So totally guilty of this). When I start getting the spinny wheel of death on my screen I know it’s time to close the browser down and restart my computer. Just give it a little break. A reset.
It’s the same for us. We need to step away from everything and give ourselves a reset. Otherwise we’re going to keep short circuiting, feeling craptastic, AND getting nothing done.
There’s any number of ways to reset, but the key is to make it a device free break. Step outside for some deep breaths. Take a walk around the block. Turn on your favorite jam and dance it out. Sing at the top of your lungs if you can. Pick up a REAL book for ten minutes. There’s no wrong answer. Do what works for you.
2. Make Your List
Now that we’ve moved, deep breathed, and given ourselves a break let’s put a plan in place so we don’t end up back in Overwhelm Land.
First things first. Grab a pen and whatever you usually keep your lists in and let’s make one. Let’s get ALL the things out of our heads and onto the page in front of us. The stuff that floats around and shows back up at 3 AM, waking us up from our well deserved slumber. The stuff that sticks in our head while we’re trying to write an article. Or an important email. The stuff that needs to get out, but live somewhere else so we don’t panic that we’re losing the information. Write it all down.
3. Now Choose One Thing
One. Look at your list and select something. I know you wrote down seventy billion things. My to-do list looks the same.
But in this moment, fresh off of overwhelm we’re going to choose ONE thing and we’re going to own it. We’re going to blaze new trails on its face. Choose the thing on your list that’s been sticking in your side. You know you need to get it done and you haven’t touched it yet. But this moment is different. Because you’re choosing how this to-do list is going to affect you. You’re in control.
Once you have it, mute your phone, turn it upside down, and shut off all the pop-up notifications on your computer because you have no time for any of that BS. You’re in this to win this. This one thing is about to get owned and you’re going for broke.
If it helps you, set your timer on your phone for working blocks of time. Whatever you need to do to own this one thing. Because it’s going to be the wind beneath your wings — your Bette Middler. The sense of accomplishment will act like a natural high and put a smile on that face.
Owning the ONE THING sets our accomplishment foundation firmly in place. The success of focusing and working without distraction naturally propels us to the next thing with grace and ease.
While the steps I’ve outlined above will absolutely help with overwhelm in the moment — which we all fall victim to now and again, there are also many things we can put into play on a broader level to prevent overwhelm.
A good defense if you will. Asking for help. Putting systems in place. Investing as much effort into taking care of ourselves as we do our business and others. This type of planning and implementation one of the fundamental topics I work on with my one-on-one coaching clients. No matter what we’re working toward, achieving these big goals always begins with having a solid foundation in place.