The Complete Guide on how to deal with overwhelm… Part 2


…for Tycoon Women who are still wearing the cape and trying to fly!

purple super woman


Last week we looked at the causes of overwhelm and how we might start to shift the limiting beliefs and patterns we have that are keeping us stuck in the belief that it is possible to do everything all the time. It’s not! And shaking those superhero tendencies takes practice. So here are the first of the suggestions to break the habit. Remember not to turn this into an overwhelming task by trying to do everything that’s suggested. Just focus on one initially – you can always come back to the list later once that one is working for you.


A simple place to start

1. Before you do anything else -take a time out! If you are feeling completely stressed and overwhelmed you won’t be able to think clearly enough to take any action at all.  What do you like doing that really relaxes you quickly – perhaps it’s going for a walk, listening to music, journaling or sitting in quiet mediation. Whatever it is for you do at least 15 minutes of your relaxing thing before trying any of the following tips.

2. Begin with the end in mind. When you know what the end game looks like it is easy to set priorities and goals. Ask yourself where you want to be in 12 months in terms of your personal life, professional life, relationships etc. Get clear and set yourself SMARTER goals:

Specific it is stated in terms that give you all you need to know about the things to be achieved

Measurable it includes a system of measurement that will tell you how you will know when it has been achieved

Achievable it needs to be possible not just in terms of the normal realm of possibility but also in your mind.  If you don’t believe it is achievable your right!

Realistic this is based on but not necessarily constrained by a good understanding of where you currently are, what norms exist in this area and your ability to transcend them.

Time related – put simply this is just a target date for achieving your goal.  When you have a commitment to a deadline it helps you focus your efforts on completing your task on or before your target date.

Exciting – how is your goal exciting to you and what makes you really want it?  Without excitement goals can seem ominous and daunting. Setting yourself exciting goals means that you can’t wait to achieve them and so you build in perpetual motivation.

Relevant – how does your goal fit into the bigger picture of your personal life or of your company?  If your goal isn’t adding to your overall life purpose no matter how specific, measurable, attainable and timely it is; it may be doing nothing towards helping you achieve your life’s purpose or making the impact you came to make.


To avoid your goals becoming overwhelming, pick just three goals for 12 months. If you complete them, you can always add another one later.

3. Simplify. Look for ways to un complicate the things you do regularly. What can you automate/ delegate or streamline? Take an in depth look at every task you do and ask yourself if there is a better, easier way to do it, or if there is a piece of software that could do that task for you. You’ll be surprised at how many “apps for that” there are!

 4. Keep your “someday ideas” separate from your routine to-dos. We all get great ideas and they’re often seem so good that we want to follow them immediately. Then we realise that this is possibly not the best approach so we start adding them to our to-do list and pretty soon it becomes a to-do encyclopaedia! Listing down the ideas that pop into your head is a great way to keep tract of these gems of inspiration, however, they don’t have to clutter up your tod do list. Create a separate space for them in an ideas journal or spreadsheet. That way you can enjoy them when you have time rather than be weighed down by them every day.

5. Organise your to-do list and keep it where you have easy access to it. Because I’m a technology geek I like to keep my to-do lists electronic and with today’s modern smart phones I can not only have it with me at all times I can also synchronise it across all my devices (phone, tablet, PC etc)  It is easily to access and update and is linked to my calendar. However you keep your to do list (and if you are still wedded to the paper I would strongly urge you to seek a modern electronic solution), make sure you can access it quickly as this will save a lot time and keep you focused if it is somewhere you can regularly refer to it – especially if you are interrupted; quick access makes getting back on track much easier.

 6. Focus v multi tasking.  There has been a lot of bad press about multi-tasking recently. It is said that focus is better and multi-tasking is a primary cause of overwhelm. Personally I think this is a myth started by the male of the species who are jealous of our ability to multi-task and get things done.

The problem is, what many refer to as multi-tasking is really fire fighting; trying to do loads of things at once in a bid to deal with overwhelming to-do lists. True multi-tasking is based on being able to schedule tasks that can run concurrently because you are able to slot in activities from one tasks during another’s lag time. For example, I can cook dinner and do the washing at the same time, because while the wash cycle is going on I can be preparing the meal. By the same token I can answer some quick emails whilst I’m waiting the 5 minutes for the video I just created to upload to my social media.

Clearly some tasks require our complete attention and focus until they are completed and solely focussing on such tasks makes good time management sense. However, avoid the temptation to throw your multi tasking skills out with the bath water. There really is a place for them.

7. Just bite your lip and get on with it!  An unhelpful side effect of overwhelm is lack of concentration – having too much to do can cause you to get fed up and distracted easily. If you find this happening to you, one solution is to work with a timer. Set your timer for 20 minutes and stay focused on what you are doing until you hear the timer go off.   At the end of the 20 minutes take a break. (You can use one of your relaxation strategies from tip 1) Then begin again. Once you get used to focusing for 20 minutes add an extra 5 minutes to your timer (25 minutes instead of 20, etc). This will gradually rebuild your ability to focus and concentrate for sustained periods, which in turn will make you more effective and so you will get more done in less time.

8. Know how long it takes. Believing you are a super hero means that you think you can transcend the space time continuum aka travel at the speed of light. In overwhelm terms this means totally underestimating exactly how long things take in reality. I am notorious for assuming that tasks take much less time than they actually take. The best cure for this is to double or even treble your initial assessment of the time you think it will take. That way you won’t add too many tasks to your daily calendar and you will feel less stress because you know you’ve given adequate time to every task. If your estimate’s too long, the positive side effect is that you’ll feel good because you’ll have extra time on your hands to take a well earned tea break!

10. Give yourself a break. Now that you are starting to live your life as a mere mortal, give yourself a break! When we pretend we are super heroes we push ourselves too hard. Most things in life are more akin to marathons than sprints – “slow and steady wins the race” are wise words. Every few hours, take a break from your work. Step away from the PC, desk etc, go outside and get a breath of fresh air. Better still really do something to put you in a different more relaxed state like playing some music; read for entertainment; go for a walk/jog; a beverage with a friend. Anything that takes your heart and mind away from your work routine. This is not the same as a lack of focus – this is a deliberate break; a gift from you to you. When you get back to your to-do list it will be with a clear mind and a fresh perspective.

Look out for more tips on dealing with overwhelm in part 3.

Are you still wearing a superhero cape? What are your strategies for remaining human?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section so others can benefit too.

If you missed part one you can read it here







About Ola Agbaimoni

Known as "The Business Detective" due to her "Sherlock Holmes" like problem solving abilities, Ola works in partnership with her sister Carole Pyke, The Business Bard. Together they run Eélan Media, a new type of Business growth agency offering a forensic approach to business and a creative approach to marketing. As well as being an expert in business planning, training and development, Ola is also a certified coach, NLP practitioner; an accomplished author, speaker and presenter.

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