If you feel like you have too much to do with too little time to do it in, you are not alone. Most everyone feels like there are too many demands on their time resulting in some type of overwhelm.
Although some overwhelm is mild, other times it can be so intense we feel like we have no way to deal with it.
Truth be told, if you don’t address the smaller things as they crop up, before you know it, your life is functioning from the space of complete disarray.
Whether it be from work or business, relationships and family demands, uncertainty in our political structure, emails and social media, the news, or health issues, there are many things that can cause overwhelm.
Some of the things that cause overwhelm we may not be able to do much about, while other things we do have a lot of control over.
Regardless of whether or not we can eliminate the cause of overwhelm, how we respond to it makes a huge difference.
When things become super intense many people become very unproductive. It can feel like you are doing a lot, but getting very little done. You can feel completely exhausted at the end of the day and yet, not be able to identify the things that are making you tired.
The way to minimize the downsides of overwhelm is to implement much needed changes. Granted, not all changes are possible, but there are likely some you can make that will impact your time, energy and peace of mind.
1. Become aware
4. Let go
5. Avoid the “Tomorrow I will do it” syndrome
The first step in minimizing overwhelm is to become aware of how you spend your time. It’s amazing how much we do that becomes mindless activity.
Keep a time journal for a period of one week. You may be shocked at what you discover.
Evaluate what you are doing throughout the day to determine how essential what you do actually is. We can think what we are doing is necessary when in reality it may not be that important.
A great example is spending too much time on social media. Time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social networks can put us into a mindless loop of activity that accomplishes very little. It takes away from more important activities, like time with our friends or family.
Social media can also take time away from important business activities such as phoning clients, following up on leads after a conference, or working on a key proposal.
Once you determine how your time is being spent, it’s time to choose what you will let go of. For example, if you’ve been wanting to write a book, but you just don’t seem to have the time, choosing to work on your manuscript before you hop on social media can result in your actually getting the manuscript done.
Over the years, I can’t count the number of people who claimed to want to write a book, but were convinced they didn’t have time in their day. A closer look at how they spent their time revealed that they spent hours either playing around on Facebook or watching mindless television shows.
If you say you want to accomplish something, you need to make some tough (and sometimes not so tough) choices.
Right now, I’m working on a memoir. I’ve given myself 66 days to complete the manuscript. In order to stick to the plan, each day I’ve committed to writing between 500 – 1,000 words. Setting this word count as my goal makes it manageable. However, it’s essential not to miss a day with this.
I started the manuscript less than two weeks ago. Already I have over 15,000 words completed. I’m a quarter of the way to my goal in less than 15% of the allotted time.
Once you determine what behaviors are not serving you, it’s time to let go.
Let go of the excuses, let go of the unproductive behaviors, let go of the chains that bind you. It’s really that simple. Not always easy, but very, very simple.
“Tomorrow I Will Do It” Syndrome
It’s amazing how many times we know we need to do something, but tell ourselves, “I’ll get around to it tomorrow.” Tomorrow doesn’t exist.
To get out of overwhelm, whatever changes we need to make, whatever habits we need to change, we are well served to start today.
The problem with “tomorrow” is how instrumental it is in helping us to lose our resolve and stay stuck.
Three things that will help you to get, and stay, out of overwhelm are:
• Just Say No
• Write a list
• Clear your head
Just Say No
No is a very powerful word. It’s amazing how much time can open up by us simply saying no. No to the “this will only take a minute” activities that crop up throughout our day. No to the phone conversations from friends who want to talk about the latest episode of The Walking Dead during our workday. No to behaviors that in no way, shape or form serve us in achieving our long term goals.
If you decided to get in shape and eat healthy, saying no to the dessert after Sunday service at church is a must do. This will help you to avoid feeling guilty in such a way that it triggers other eating that puts you into overwhelm. Or, saying no to staying in bed an extra hour instead of getting up and going to the gym.
If you are working on the manuscript for your next book and you find yourself spending untold amounts of time on social media rather than working on your book, it’s time to say no to mindlessly watching the latest and greatest cat video that has nothing to do with your achieving your writing goals. Now mind you, I love cats and I enjoy funny cat videos, but not at the risk of missing my writing time.
No is a powerful word. One that can serve you in minimizing overwhelm.
Studies have shown that when we write lists and stick to them, we tend to get more done in less time. In some cases, we actually save money by writing lists.
One of the best ways to save time and money is do weekly grocery shopping. Before heading out to the store, determine everything you need for the week. By doing this, you won’t make unnecessary trips to the corner market for things you run out of… like toilet paper.
Not only are you saving time, you will save money due to not shopping at stores that charge for convenience.
It may take time upfront to write the list, but if you know what you’re shopping for before heading into the store, you’ll avoid spinning your wheels trying to think of everything you need based on memory.
Additionally, when you have a list and stick with it, you avoid the impulse buys that we’ve all been guilty of.
To Do List
Studies have shown that you get much more done in your day when you work off a To Do list. According to an article on FastCompany.com, “For most people, the challenge at work isn’t keeping busy hour by hour or day to day, it’s making sure we get the big-picture projects done that make work fulfilling.”
When you have a list to work from, you will get more done, you have a greater sense of accomplishment and you won’t be spinning your wheels.
Clear Your Head
It’s amazing how easy it is to jump into our day without being grounded in our body. Being grounded simply means you are fully present.
Not to take time to do this creates unnecessary stress and overwhelm.
The best part of all is that often you can accomplish all three at the same time. My chosen form of exercise is running. I was not always a runner. As a matter of fact, I picked up the sport shortly after my 60th birthday.
I started as a power walker and graduated to running. What I love about running is that it forces me to be fully present, I must focus on my breathing and it is very meditative.
I’ve found nothing better, for me, to clear my head. Before a run, I may not always feel like putting the miles in, but within a short time outside, I am grateful I stuck with the process.
I often get great ideas during a run, I process issues that might be bothering me, and I get out of overwhelm.
When we increase the oxygen in our bodies and brain, we tend to be less stressed which means we likely won’t go into overwhelm.
“We found a dose of oxygen or glucose can improve performance on tasks that require great mental effort,” says Andrew Scholey, director of the Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England.
However you choose to clear your head, make a commitment to do something on a daily basis.
It’s not that we won’t have a lot to do on any given day, but how we handle the activities determines if we will succumb to overwhelm… or not.
Your choices, the ability to say no, writing lists and getting fully present are essential to how you feel about life. Why not do yourself a favor and set yourself up for success and as little stress as possible?