Have you ever suffered from a sense of being overwhelmed? This has been my recent experience and in doing something about it I am laying out for you a route out of your own overwhelm. What threatens to overwhelm is different for all of you. It could be the size of the task before you or just the number of things you need to get done; all of them vying for your time and energy. Overwhelm, if it gets the better of you, causes paralysis. You are not sure where to start.
When you are up against deadlines the sense of overwhelm intensifies. It is important to realise that a sense of overwhelm is about your mindset. It is the way you are viewing things.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one” – Mark Twain
How can you manage overwhelm when you are in the middle of it?
There are three contributing factors at the core of overwhelm – clarity, focus, and priority. When everything seems to have equal value then it is difficult to know what to do first.
Getting out of Overwhelm
1. When you have this sense of overwhelm the first thing to do is STOP. Take a deep breath or five, and just slow everything down for a minute. If you need to change the scenery, take a 15-minute walk and do something that you know is calming.
2. In order to change something you have to make it visible. Write down all the things you need to do. If it is one particular task that is the cause, then write down the components that you are responsible for. Dump your brain onto paper. Then you can see what it is you are wrestling with. The very act of making your thinking visible means you can then see what to change.
3. Prioritise. It may be timing that helps you prioritise, it may be the impact of the tasks, or whether others can only do what they are doing once you have contributed your part. Prioritising will give you clarity on what is important and urgent.
4. Get started. Take the first step. Focus on one thing and be present in it. The completion of something means it is no longer competing. Every journey begins with a first step.
“You don’t need to see the whole staircase to take the first step.” Unknown
5. Overwhelm can be symptomatic of underlying fatigue. This can be caused by having to do things we don’t have a natural affinity for. If that’s the case, you will need to do other things that energise you to balance this up. A constant drain on your energy will mean you are not able to give your best. You are more likely to act out of your default self and your communication and relationships will suffer.
All this to say there are things you can do which break overwhelm. What one thing are you going to do today to help you deal systematically with the things you need to do?
As a coach this is an area I can help you get clarity. Book a 30-minute call to discover how here.
“Start where you are. Do what you can. Use what you have.” – Arthur Ashe