DO YOU EVER GET A MASSIVE SENSE OF OVERWHELM AND FEEL THAT THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH TO DO?
There are usually 5 primary reasons that cause this…
1) Carrying your to-do list around in your head not in paper – a high level of mental energy gets wasted on trying to ‘hold on’ to everything that needs to get done in your mind, not to mention trying to remember the order of priority!
2) Failure to break projects down into tasks and milestones – thinking about a massive chunk of work is naturally more overwhelming than singular tasks.
“Every mountain climbed begins with one step after another”
3) Making unimportant things important – by focusing on the minor things we take our attention away from the major things. This usually occurs as a result of failing to plan further upstream OR because you are procrastinating over your most important priorities.
4) Failure to pay due attention to an area of underperformance in your life or work – ignoring the problem will rarely make it go away!
5) Lack of sleep – most things tend to feel more daunting from a place of low energy!
When all 5 occur together this is when overwhelm turns to a sense of STRESS!
The problem at this stage is that the stress becomes self-perpetuating because the overwhelm that you experience from 1-4 will adversely impact your ability to sleep and your energy levels…
This will seriously screw with your game plan, your motivation, your outlook AND if this is left unhandled it will lead you on a path where you are suddenly facing burnout.
I believe that the majority of those who get signed off with work related stress have probably reached stage 5 level of overwhelm where they simply feel trapped and don’t see a way out other than complete withdrawal via a sick note.
I’ve never been signed off for stress before but I’ve DEFINITELY had to take a couple of ‘sick’ days in my time to process the overwhelm – both in corporate and business.
Here’s what I recommend to ease the pressure and get back into flow…
1) Block out a couple of hours to refocus – get every action and idea out on paper. Bruce Lee called this ‘mind like water’.
I’ve had to do this on several occasions in my career – I’ll literally write down everything that I know needs to be done, every email action that needs to be taken, every voicemail that needs responding to and every idea that is floating around in my mind.
The process of writing everything down in of itself is LIBERATING!
Don’t overcomplicate the process…Pen and paper is all you need to get started.
Take your list and use the ABCDE method to categorise your tasks:
A = URGENT
B = IMPORTANT
C = UNIMPORTANT
D = DELEGATE
E = ELIMINATE
Be brutally honest as you do this – is the action REALLY urgent? Is the task truly important? Do YOU really need to take the action or can it be delegated or eliminated?
Once you have your categorised list, then batch all of your A & B tasks into PROJECTS and write them in order of importance with deadlines – I use a tool called Trello to manage all of my projects.
Finally, take your top 3-5 most pressing actions and put them in your schedule to get done TODAY. I use Todoist to manage my daily priorities.
As for the C actions, it is easy to get carried away with something that is unimportant if we don’t stop to review and reflect. Ask yourself if these actions really need to be done at all, if so schedule them for the most appropriate time, if not then add them to the D or E category.
Now tackle the D actions – WHO are you going to delegate the actions to and when? What feedback and follow up mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that these tasks are completed on time?
Finally, enjoy scribbling out all of the E actions.
Then repeat the process tomorrow, take the next 3-5 most important actions and keep on rolling.
This process of getting all your outstanding actions and tasks in order should immediately create a sense of relief and control.
2) Write out a list of the most important areas in your life- e.g. family, friends, health, finances, career/business, lifestyle, spiritual etc and rate each area from 1-10 .
Take your lowest performing area and write an action plan that will enable you to increase the performance towards a 10 and add these actions to your project map.
3) Take some time out to rejuvenate your body and mind – stress only leads to more stress. Cultivating a relaxed state of mind is essential to productivity and flow. At first it may seem counterintuitive to take time out during times of pressure, however, nothing great is ever achieved from overwhelm.
Find time to relax, workout, eat well, journal, meditate, read and rest – do what is necessary to restore calm and then get back to it with a refreshed mind and body.
It is important to maintain your empowering habits when the pressure is on – it’s easy to drop the workout or meditation time when you are feeling overwhelmed, yet these supporting habits are precisely what you need to move forward with greater ease. Never fool yourself into thinking the time spent on your projects is more important than the fundamentals that are necessary to function optimally.
If you are feeling so overwhelmed right now that you can’t see a way forward then I’d love to help you – we often cannot see the big picture when we are in the frame.
Let me be a mirror for you so that you can see where you need to go next.
A lot of the work I do with entrepreneurs is stripping away all the noise and simplifying your priorities so that you can restore flow and find focus so you can create with greater ease.
I’m able to do this because I have been to the depths of overwhelm, I’ve experienced total confusion and as a creator it’s easy for me to get carried away with ideas. Fortunately, I have found a way to get to the heart of the matter, to deconstruct the problem and create TOTAL focus around your highest priorities so that you can experience greater focus and create a bigger impact.
If you would like to book a free discovery session with me then please visit www.danjgregory.com/discoverysession to claim your spot!