Whether it’s in your work or personal life, everyone experiences being overwhelmed at some stage in their lives.
Unfortunately these periods can become the norm, fuelling chronic stress with all it’s damaging mental and physical health side effects.
The rise of technology means you’re often at work and available for duty, at least mentally, 24/7 even if you’re still being paid for a standard 40 hour week.
Managers and business leaders are increasingly pushed to deliver more with less resources.
The result? A drop in the quality of work output, pressure on family life, precious personal time and potential health issues.
The primary objective for most humans is to look after their loved ones. However this becomes an impossible task if we’re drowning in overwhelm and struggling to look after ourselves.
Fortunately you’re in the right place to discover what you can do to stop feeling overwhelmed and regain control of your life…….!!
Identify, Capture and Categorise
An article in Best Health Magazine suggests that you start by writing down the issues that you have in your head and are creating that feeling of overwhelm.
The process of capturing the issues on paper helps cleanse your mind and create a perception of distance where you can be more objective.
Next categorise the list of issues to gain clarity.
Suggested groupings could be;
If these are ‘to-do’ tasks, something I find extremely useful is to reframe the ‘to-do’ tag to ‘get-to-do’. This creates a change in mindset and the tasks move from seeming to be a burden to an opportunity.
The list is still the same size but psychologically less daunting!
Once the tasks are grouped and reframed, identify which ones will strengthen you and which do you actually enjoy. These are your priorities.
In the introduction I mentioned the pressure within businesses to operate with fewer resources.
However, sometimes lack of resources aren’t the problem. You may have a tendency to hang onto tasks. Maybe you do them better than others or they’re more interesting.
Spending unnecessary time is clearly adding to your feelings of overwhelm so ask yourself ‘Am I the only one capable of doing this?’
If not, delegate. If so, consider training another resource to take it over.
Make Meetings Effective
In a Forbes article by Erika Andersen it’s claimed that, based on a London School of Economics study, most CEO’s (Chief Executive Officers) spend a third of their time in meetings.
Certainly some level of meetings are important but, from my own experience there are way too many and often inefficient and over attended.
I’ve never fully understood the ‘Optional’ selection when inviting attendees, they should either attend or not, surely?
We all owe a duty of care to ourselves and our colleagues not to waste precious time. Therefore first ask yourself who really needs to be there.
Then Erika Andersen has a simple method to make key points crystal clear in advance of any meeting.
- Topic – What is the subject?
- Time – What time is allocated?
- Owner – Who will move the agreed actions forward?
- Goal – Why are you discussing the subject?
Question the Past
- Are you doing things because you assume ‘we have to’ or that ‘they’ve always been done that way’?
- Do you really need to do it this way or even at all?
- What would happen if you didn’t do it?
- Would there seriously be any issue?
Approach each task with these questions and answer honestly and realistically. I’ll guarantee you’ll gain back a significant number of hours each week !!
Book ‘Thinking Time’ into Your Calendar
Although this seems counterintuitive for an overwhelmed time pressured individual, the process is priceless.
This gives you the chance to step back, gain perspective and see the big picture which is usually blurred when you’re in the thick of the action.
You’ll feel more relaxed which leads to clearer thinking, better choices and more effective problem solving.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of asking for support or ideas to cope with the workload.
However, make sure you’re not just complaining. Make it clear you want constructive input to find a workable solution.
And Finally…..Be Brave and Say ‘No’ (but in a diplomatic way!)
We all want to please others but if you don’t learn this skill you’ll continue to overcommit.
This not only impacts you but your company, clients, colleagues and family as well.
If you can’t deliver on your promises, everyone loses.
A diplomatic ‘no’ could be along the lines of ‘I’d love to help with that but with my current commitments it’s just not possible. Let’s try to find another solution……’
So now you’ve got the tools to stop feeling overwhelmed, go take those first steps!!
You’re on the road to taking back control of your life.
Take a breath, pat yourself on the back and smile!
Here’s to your success…..!
For more tips on managing your time, check out my post on ‘How to work Smarter not Harder’