Whether you are self-employed or in a hight stress job, you most likely are familiar with the feeling of overwhelm that starts showing up on your door step every now and then. At times it occurs because we have been ignoring its early warning sign, and at other times perhaps we simply take on way more than we can humanly handle. Here are some steps that will help you manage overwhelm and take back control.
- Take a break — I know this sounds completely counter-intuitive, but sometimes just stepping away from it all for a bit and regrouping is exactly what you need. Imagine overwhelm like having made only withdrawals from a bank account without ever making a deposit. Sooner or later your account will be overdrawn and you will have to make a deposit. Since overwhelm is an emotion, you have to make an emotional deposit. Do something that makes you FEEL good. Meditate, rest, take a nap, go for a walk in nature, or do whatever makes you feel better. After having done so you will have renewed energy and a better outlook on what’s going on.
- Prioritize — Overwhelm can happen because we have too much on our plates. Too many times we have items on our plates that only take up space but don’t serve anything. The question you want to ask yourself is: “Does this bring me closer to my goal or not?” If the answer is no, consider why it is there in first place, and if you can eliminate it or have someone else do it. All items on your plate should move you closer to achieving your goals.
- Understand the difference between being busy and being productive — Too many people will do a lot of busy work that doesn’t produce any results. Is cleaning your desk or reading newsletters closer to your goals? Is reorganizing the files on your computer for the third time this month going to bring in more money, or are you just procrastinating? Stop being busy and start being productive.
- Stop multi-tasking — Multi-tasking is myth and it doesn’t work. What most people refer to as multi-tasking is really task switching according to Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries. Our brains can really only focus on one thing at a time. Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears. You will be more productive and get more done if you just focus on one task, get it done, and then move on to the next.
- You only need to know your next step — Working on a big project one can feel easily overwhelmed by all the parts that have to be put in place or accomplished. One of my favorite quotes comes from Martin Luther King Jr. who said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Have faith that the next stop will reveal itself when you are ready for it. When I wrote my book 10 Ways to Reboot Your Mind for Success I didn’t know how to get an ISBN number, get a cover designed, or the book published. I focused on just writing. As I got involved in some writing groups, people shared their experiences and resources, and all the things I needed started to appear in my life. Simply work on the next step and let go of any worry of what happens after that. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there.
Have more ideas to overcome overwhelm, please comment.